The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) concept started in 1988 with the Memphis Police Department who formed partnerships with the Memphis chapter of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill (AMI), mental health providers, and two local universities (University of Memphis and University of Tennessee) in organizing, training and implementing a specialized unit. This alliance was established for the purpose of developing a more intelligent, understandable and safe approach to mental crisis events.
The CIT program is a community effort, bringing law enforcement officers and the stakeholders together for the common goals of safety, understanding and service to the mentally ill and their families. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five families are directly affected by severe mental illness, either having a family member or a friend who is mentally ill.
The CIT model has been instrumental in offering:
- Specially trained deputies to respond to immediate crisis calls;
- Ongoing training of CIT deputies; and
- Establishments of partnerships of law enforcement, NAMI, mental health providers and mental health consumers.
Through the Colorado CIT program, particularly in Arapahoe and Douglas counties, partnerships have been formed with public and private service agencies, and health care providers in order to connect persons to both private and government services. A few examples of those inter-agency working relationships are AllHealth Network; Arapahoe County Attorney; Arapahoe County Human Services; Aurora Mental Health; 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office; metro area hospitals; National Alliance on Mental Illness; and Arapahoe House. CIT deputies carry contact information for these various resources and can make the appropriate referrals and connections, and can sometimes expedite their response.
Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office provides all deputies education on identifying mental illnesses and portion of the patrol deputies participate in additional training in CIT through a 40-hour federally funded, state administered, and locally implemented course. Instructors such as psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and attorneys volunteer their time to train law enforcement to intervene with persons who have mental illness/disabilities and who are in crisis.
When available, CIT deputies along with co-responders called upon to respond to crisis calls that present them with complex issues relating to mental illness, co-occurring disorders, and developmental disabilities. When a co-responder is unavailable to respond and assist with these types of calls, deputies will make a CIT referral to the Behavioral Health Response Program for follow up. CIT deputies also perform their regular assignment as patrol deputies.
The Special Intervention Unit in the Detention/ Administrative Services Bureau is staffed by CIT-training deputies who work with special needs inmates. A Mental Health Coordinator at the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center connects inmates with mental health services and other programs.
The Sheriff’s Office is in the process of training communications technicians and call takers in CIT for Dispatch courses.
Contact Information: Email CIT Manager, Lt. Chris Gulli.