Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is an approach that was first developed in Memphis, Tennessee in response to the killing of a mentally ill black man by the police. The mayor of Memphis formed a community-wide task force that included NAMI members to develop a long-term solution to using force against the mentally ill. The result is CIT, which is a collaborative program among law enforcement and mental health service providers. The goals of the CIT are to provide immediate response to, and management of, situations where the mentally ill are in a state of crisis; prevent, reduce, or eliminate injury to both the consumer and the responding police officer; find appropriate care for the consumer; and establish a treatment program that reduces recidivism.
Our community, like many others across the country, is confronted with increasing contact between law enforcement personnel and people in behavioral health crises. The unfortunate outcome of these frequent encounters is that individuals in behavioral health crises are often inappropriately booked into jails and do not receive the treatment and care they need. Moreover, these encounters can be dangerous for the law enforcement officer as well as the individual in crisis. All too often, it seems the result is unnecessary injury or death. The CIT program is a model program that has been implemented in numerous communities, large and small, across the country. This program involves: (1) special law enforcement training, (2) special dispatch procedures, (3) the availability of appropriate, timely, and user-friendly acute crisis care alternatives to jail, and (4) effective aftercare and follow-up.
In response to NAMI-GBA advocacy, a community-wide CIT Task Force was formed under the leadership of Charlotte Zietlow to develop a CIT program adapted to serve the Bloomington community. The CIT Task Force has fostered a working dialogue among representatives of criminal justice agencies and mental health service providers to develop a working CIT program including a curriculum to train law enforcement officers from the Bloomington Police, Monroe County Sheriff's Department, IU Police, and other public safety related agencies. The first CIT course is expected within months.