College and university campuses around the country are embracing CIT as a way to better serve students experiencing a crisis, integrate their services with the broader community, and maintain campus safety. We spoke with law enforcement agencies on several campuses to learn more about the unique opportunities and challenges faced by CIT programs on campus.
The campus environment is unique in that young people on campus are at an age when the onset of mental illness often occurs, and the stress of the transition to college life can often trigger depression or other mental illnesses. When a crisis occurs, CIT can help officers respond effectively: Leslie Wiete, Patrol Sergeant at
At the same time, campuses may be an ideal environment for CIT because they already have in place some of the collaborations necessary for CIT to succeed. Alan Gutierrez, chief of police at
Gutierrez also pointed out that collaboration with off-campus groups is a priority; the university is part of a broader
While the opportunities and challenges of a campus CIT program may be unique, officers emphasize that the benefits of a CIT program are similar whether it’s located on or off campus. Campus law enforcement agencies are building the same kind of collaborations and using the same strategies as other law enforcement agencies. Officers emphasize the importance of relationships with NAMI, the mental health
We are encouraged to hear about campus communities embracing CIT, and would like to learn about other campus programs. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more, you can contact any of the officers mentioned in this story. To contact Sgt. Wiete at
Whether it’s talking to the media, introducing CIT to your local law enforcement agency or making a convincing argument to your state legislators, advocates need to be prepared to speak clearly and concisely about the importance of CIT.
CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) is a model program designed to improve the outcomes of police interactions with people with mental illnesses.
CIT is a
CIT officers are trained to prevent crises, and to de-escalate a crisis when it occurs. But, CIT is not just training. CIT is only effective when law enforcement, the mental health system and consumer and family advocates collaborate to make sure that when officers divert someone, the treatment system is willing and able to provide appropriate treatment.
CIT works for law enforcement.
CIT provides officers tools for responding more safely and compassionately to people with serious mental illness. CIT gives officers options other than arrest and incarceration when they encounter people with mental illness. It improves public safety and reduces officer injuries, while reducing the amount of time officers spend dealing with mental disturbance calls. CIT officers report that they are more satisfied with CIT than with other jail diversion approaches.
CIT works for consumers.
CIT improves consumers’ safety: through the use of de-escalation techniques, officers can help prevent a crisis from deteriorating to the point where the use of force is likely. When they encounter a CIT officer, consumers are more likely to be transferred to treatment, to stay out of jails and emergency rooms, and receive treatment in the
CIT frees up public resources.
By diverting people with serious mental illness from jails, CIT helps ensure that jails are used to incarcerate criminals, not people who require treatment. CIT also saves public resources by preventing people from deteriorating to the point they are incarcerated or require costly emergency services. Finally, CIT saves police time and money by creating an efficient system for transferring people from law enforcement custody to mental health treatment.
Be concise: If your mes
Tell your personal story, or connect CIT to local events, to be most effective. For example, if a crisis situation in your
Tailor your mes
Present yourself as someone who can help: Everyone responds more favorably to those who approach them in a positive, constructive way, as opposed to those who approach them critically. For example, with law enforcement, it is always important to recognize how difficult the job of an officer is, and to present CIT as a strategy that can make that job easier.
At its annual convention, NAMI Indiana presented NAMI National’s Excellence in Community Mental Health Service Award to Indiana Department of Corrections Commissioner J. David Donahue. Commissioner Donahue has collaborated with NAMI Indiana to develop and implement a training course on mental illnesses for correctional officers. So far, over 700 corrections officers have been trained in several facilities. The 10-hour training program includes causes and treatments of mental illness, how to recognize symptoms, and how to interact with people experiencing psychiatric symptoms. Preliminary outcomes are very promising: since the February 2004 training at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility Secure Housing Unit, use of force among those trained has decreased by 70%. To learn more about this effort, contact Kellie Meyer, M.A., criminal justice director, NAMI Indiana, email@example.com or visit the Indiana Department of Corrections website.
In September, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced that NAMI Maine was one the recipients of the agency’s inaugural Science and Service Awards. These awards “recognize exemplary implementation of evidence-based interventions to prevent and treat mental illnesses and substance abuse.” NAMI Maine received the award for it’s involvement in bringing CIT to
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