9/25/13 Press Conference
At our 9/25 Press Conference we discussed problems and solutions, and were joined at City Hall by Councilmembers Rosie Mendez, Albert Vann, Jumaane Williams, Brad Lander and Margaret Chin.
CBS New York:
Experts, Lawyers Want Changes… (read more>>)
Advocates Urge NYPD to Reform… (read more>>)
The Epoch Times:
Mental Health Pros Seek Crisis Intervention Teams (read more>>)
NYC Coalition on the Steps of City Hall (read more>>)
What is a Crisis Intervention Team
A Crisis Intervention Team (or CIT) is a joint program with a police department and local mental health providers to improve police response to crisis situations involving the mentally ill. The goal is to have response to mental health crises be appropriate, so that mental health recipients are not automatically thrown into the criminal justice system, and to reduce possible injury to police and mental health recipients.
At the core of the CIT model is this joint community-police partnership.
Why Do We Need Them
Half of all people killed by police live with mental health issues.
- Huffington Post: Neglected Issues — Police Killings of the Mentally Ill and the Lack of Police and Mental Health Relations
- CBS News: Times Square Shooting: Experts say police need better training to deal with the mentally ill
Recently, the United States Department of Justice has begun filing complaints against cities where encounters with the local police departments have resulted in the deaths of a large number of mental health recipients:
- Investigation of the Portland Police Bureau by the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
Most Crisis Intervention Teams have started voluntarily in cities after mental health recipients were killed by police in tragedies that might have been averted.
How Do They Work
CITs are effective at reducing violence to mental health recipients and police by changing attitudes of police officers about those with mental illness, and by providing police officers with the tools they need to de-escalate an encounter with a person in an emotional crisis.
- See: Canada, Kelli et al. (December 2012) “Intervening at the Entry Point: Differences in How CIT Trained and Non-CIT Trained Officers Describe Responding to Mental Health-Related Calls.” Community Mental Health Journal. 48:746-755.
- Bower, D., & Pettit, G. (February 2001). “The Albuquerque Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team: A Report Card.” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. 1-6.
Started in Memphis in 1988, Crisis Intervention Teams include a 40-hour comprehensive training that emphasizes mental health-related topics, crisis resolution skills and de-escalation training, and access to community-based services. The format of a 40-hour course consists of didactics/lectures, on-site visitation, exposure to several mental health facilities, intensive interaction with individuals with a mental illness, and scenario based de-escalation skill training.
Each CIT has a different make up due to the specific needs of that city or state.
Houston has a model that includes mental health professionals riding along with police to respond to those in crisis calls:
- Houston Police Department’s Mental Health Division: Houston CIT
- Mental Health Weekly, Vol. 23, June 17, 2013, “Team work between police, MH field creates model crisis response in Houston.”
- The Houston Chronicle: Sheriff’s crisis team ‘protects both sides of the badge’
The Communities for Crisis Intervention Teams in NYC believes Crisis Intervention Teams work best when the police, the mayor, and the mental health community collaborate on what will work best in a given locality.
USA Crisis Intervention Teams
There are hundreds of Crisis Intervention Team models across the nation, and more information about these can be found online at the University of Memphis CIT Center:
To search for Crisis Intervention Teams by state, check out this University of Memphis CIT National Directory map: