The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is an innovative, proactive law enforcement-based approach to addressing issues surrounding the
treatment of persons with mental health issues.
It is a collaborative effort and partnership between law enforcement, the mental health community, consumers, and consumer advocates that
trains and equips officers to respond effectively to individuals with mental illness (consumers).
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Chattanooga Police Department have committed jointly to offering CIT training to
officers who volunteer for the 40-hour specialized training. The law enforcement-based training teaches officers how to take a more personal
and educated approach with people who have mental health issues such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder
and lack of medication issues. A big part of this training is the officers’ use of verbal de-escalation. The training also consists of
classroom instruction, site visits with mental health consumers, and role play.
The CIT program the HCSO has adopted was developed in Memphis in 1988 and is known as the “Memphis Model.” Founders, Sam Cochran and
Dr. Randy Dupont, developed the training to assist those individuals with mental illness and improve the safety of patrol officers, consumers,
family members, and citizens within the community.
Since its 2010 inception in the Hamilton County and Chattanooga area, the OCHS Center for Metropolitan Studies in Chattanooga has confirmed
the achievement of some of the major objectives of the CIT program:
- decrease in use of force, especially SWAT,
- decrease in officer, consumer, and civilian injuries,
- decrease in arrest rates for the mentally ill and
- securing outpatient treatment for the consumer.
Also, consumers being treated rather than arrested and incarcerated have resulted in improved interactions and relationships between law enforcement,
as well as consumers and their families.
The CIT Curriculum is delivered over a 40-hour week of intensive training provided by volunteer mental-health professionals, advocates,
and CIT trained law enforcement officers. The training consists of classroom lectures, site visits with consumers leading discussions,
and scenario based de-escalation skills training using role play exercises. The training is to ensure law enforcement awareness of mental
health resources and to address attitudes and stigma regarding mental illness. The CIT training includes the following blocks of instruction:
- Introduction of Clinical Issues
- Psychotropic Medication and Side Effects
- Substance Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorders
- Cultural Awareness
- Developmental Disabilities
- Suicide Intervention
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Legal Issues and Mental Health Law
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Borderline and other Personality Disorders
- Community Resources, including training on assessing or requesting crisis services