Crisis Intervention Team Training for Police Officers Responding to Mental Disturbance Calls


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Abstract

ObjectivesIn recognition of the fact that police are often the first responders for individuals who are experiencing a mental illness crisis, police departments nationally are incorporating specialized training for officers in collaboration with local mental health systems. This study examined police dispatch data before and after implementation of a crisis intervention team (CIT) program to assess the effect of the training on officers' disposition of calls.MethodsThe authors analyzed police dispatch logs for two years before and four years after implementation of the CIT program in Akron, Ohio, to determine monthly average rates of mental disturbance calls compared with the overall rate of calls to the police, disposition of mental disturbance calls by time and training, and the effects of techniques on voluntariness of disposition.ResultsSince the training program was implemented, there has been an increase in the number and proportion of calls involving possible mental illness, an increased rate of transport by CIT-trained officers of persons experiencing mental illness crises to emergency treatment facilities, an increase in transport on a voluntary status, and no significant changes in the rate of arrests by time or training.ConclusionsThe results of this study suggest that a CIT partnership between the police department, the mental health system, consumers of services, and their family members can help in efforts to assist persons who are experiencing a mental illness crisis to gain access to the treatment system, where such individuals most often are best served.

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