Seventeen law enforcement officers from nine different departments participated in this year’s CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training that was sponsored by the Four County ADAMhs Board and NAMI Four County recently. This is the sixth year that the program has been offered with a total 90 officers completing the program.
The purpose of CIT is to provide law enforcement and corrections officers who respond to crisis situations with basic mental health education to help them identify persons who may have a mental illness. The week-long training focuses on effective ways of interacting with mentally ill persons in crisis situations and ways to safely and successfully resolve those situations.
During the week, participants learn about the local mental health system and how persons with a mental illness receive treatment.
They also learn techniques that can de-escalate situations as well as understand why some of the methods that have been taught to use in volatile situations are more likely to escalate a crisis involving someone who is mentally ill.
The officers learn from mental health professionals as well as a panel of persons with a mental illness. The panelists explain how they act and respond to others when they are not doing well.
The CIT program was developed jointly by the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) affiliate in Memphis and the Memphis police department. Today, CIT is taught to police agencies around the country and is credited with safely and effectively resolving mental health crises when law enforcement is called.
When family members need to call law enforcement concerning their loved one, NAMI encourages them to make clear that the person they are calling about has a mental illness and to request a CIT officer if the department has one on duty.