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Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) in Law Enforcement | Research

Police encounters with mentally ill individuals in crisis have resulted in criminalization of those with mental illness, lack of appropriate mental health service attainment, and increased injuries to mental health consumers and law enforcement officers (LEOs).  To ameliorate these negative effects, current literature supports a police-based specialized police response known as the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).  The CIT model incorporates specialized training for officers as well as collaborations with community mental health resources in dealing with individuals with mental illness, and who are in crisis.  The aim of this presentation is to: (1) highlight the unique aspects of the CIT program, (2) briefly examine the extant research relating to its efficacy in accomplishing its stated goals of reducing criminalization of the mentally ill and improving interactions between these individuals and LEOs, and (3) present results from a study designed to assess the efficacy of the CIT program in Broward County, Florida. Specifically, this investigation examines the effectiveness of CIT on a number of measures (subject/officer injuries, use of force by police, call disposition [arrest, referral, hospital admission, or informal resolution], and attenuation of effect as a function of time since CIT training) by comparing CIT versus non-CIT trained police officers. Archival data were entered into a database for analysis. The data pertain to mental health emergency call-outs, and provide details regarding the amount of force used by police, the number of officer/subject injuries sustained, and the disposition for each call. In addition, data are being entered regarding the date CIT officers completed training. All of these data are being examined statistically to compare outcomes between CIT and non-CIT officers. Preliminary results appear to be similar to findings from other researchers in this area (see Compton, Bahora, Watson, & Oliva, 2008), illustrating an increase in referral/hospitalization of the mentally ill.

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