In 1988, the first Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) formed in Memphis, TN in the wake of a tragedy: a police officer fatally shot a man with a history of mental illness.
Across the country, CIT programs today bring together local law enforcement, first responders, mental health providers, and advocates to increase safety for everyone involved in a behavioral health crisis.
These teams also collaborate to redirect individuals with mental illnesses and other mental health needs from the criminal justice system to the health care system when appropriate.
Through intense 40-hour trainings, law enforcement officers and first responders receive the tools and resources they need to recognize and de-escalate a crisis situation.
Additionally, assessment sites are created that aren’t jails or other criminal justice settings. These sites serve as a place for individuals in crisis to receive treatment and access to health care services.
There are currently 32 assessment sites across the Commonwealth and 9,842 individuals have completed the 40-hour training. According to the DBHDS, 117 of Virginia’s 133 localities have active CIT programs.
When 10 percent of all police encounters in the US involve individuals with severe mental illnesses, these CIT programs are a crucial step in reducing inappropriate incarcerations and keeping officers and individuals safe.
This is why we are grateful for the recent opportunity to participate in a CIT training video for local law enforcement. Crystal Lipford, Garnett Bradberry, and Heath Pond of Good Neighbor Homes assisted Ivan Alzuro, producer at Richmond Corporate Video, earlier this month in creating the video as part of their 40-hour training curriculum.
We appreciate the CIT officers in our area and will continue to advocate for CIT programs across the state.