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“While serving on the city council and then as Mayor of St. George, I came to understand the value of CIT Utah. St. George Police officers receive and are extremely appreciative of CIT training and certification. It gives them greater perspective on mental health needs and teaches them how to help people going through crises.

The partnership between CIT Utah, local law enforcement, and behavioral health providers have resulted in greatly improved outcomes in our community!”

-Jon Pike, Former St. George City Mayor

Successful CIT programs are built on partnerships among mental health advocacy organizations, the mental health system, and law enforcement agencies. These three partners are the foundation for a simple reason: they are ultimately responsible for managing and bear the impact of mental health crisis situations.

Public mental health agencies have the responsibility to serve people living with serious mental illness, law enforcement agencies are responsible for responding to emergency situations of all types and have become the default first responders for many mental health crises, and advocacy groups represent the individuals and family members who directly experience crisis situations.

Only by working together can these partners improve the crisis response system for everyone.

Questions and Answers

How can CIT help my community?

When a program follows best practice CIT, the response to mental health crises has better outcomes for the person in crisis, the family, the officers, and whole communities. Because mental health professionals are involved in the response, the focus is on de-escalation and the person in crisis is more likely to be diverted to the appropriate mental health services, whenever possible. In addition, having an effective crisis response system in place, provides a better use of resources and is more cost-effective. 

Shouldn't law enforcement be first on the scene for every kind of Crisis?

In a well-functioning crisis response system, the mental health system is primarily responsible for educating the public about the availability of mental health services, reaching out to people who may need ongoing support, and responding to crisis events.

Law enforcement should play a supportive role in situations where there is a safety or criminal concern, but generally should not be the lead agency simply because a mental health crisis has occurred.

This ideal is far from the reality for many communities, where crisis services are inadequate, and police play a significant role in crisis response. Changing those systems is a slow and gradual process. Historically, law enforcement, who are often very task-oriented, have tried to address the issue on their own, or have been reluctant to relinquish primary crisis response responsibilities to an evolving system of care. Unfortunately, it’s simply impossible for law enforcement to create a safe and humane crisis response system on their own or to take on permanent responsibility for managing every crisis call for service. Instead, law enforcement must work with their partners, look for strengths in the community, and support mental health system partners in shouldering primary responsibility of crisis response services.

Does this program exist in my community? 

There are successful, best practice programs throughout the State. There are also some programs that use the “CIT” label, but do not use best practices. The Advisory Council and Coordinator section on our website has information regarding the different areas of the state that CIT Utah operates in.

How do I bring this program to my community?

Elected Officials can be the champions and allies in building best practice CIT programs in their areas. Because of the role Elected Officials play, they often know different stakeholders and individuals who would be interested in CIT. Elected Officials can be the convener to bring people together, help build a local Steering Committee, and help to build the partnerships that are so critical to successful CIT programs.

Why are there differences in CIT programs? 

Up until 2015, CIT in Utah was a unified program statewide. After that time it was determined the best way for CIT to maintain its independence and ability to represent the needs of all communities — urban, suburban, rural and frontier — it needed to form its own independent non-profit entity. Some law enforcement departments decided to do their own program, even though their officers could not receive state certification from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services .

How can I know if my local law enforcement is following CIT best practices, has some form of CIT, or does not have CIT at all?

Check out the Advisory Council and Coordinators section of our website for more information regarding the areas around the state and coordinators that use the best practice model. Go to Advisory Council and Coordinators

Four questions I should ask my local law enforcement team about best practice: 

      1. How are CIT officers selected and trained?
      2. Do officers receiving training have “street time” before they are trained, or are they trained as new recruits?
      3. Is the CIT program a true, community program? Are individuals with lived experience (peers, families, advocates) involved in the training and in all aspects of the administration of the CIT program?
      4. What are the advantages to CIT best practices being implemented statewide? 

    It is important that CIT mean the same thing to the public across the state. When an individual calls a CIT officer to respond to a mental health crisis, they should have the confidence that the officers have received the best practice training. We also believe that officers should always have the best training and tools to help keep them safe.

    What are the barriers keeping CIT best practices from being implemented statewide?

    In addition to different law enforcement agencies choosing to use their own in-house programs, funding is the greatest barrier to having CIT available statewide. Taking officers “offline” and sending them to a 40-hour training can be a staffing and financial challenge. Having funding to support law enforcement agencies can make a real difference in having the right number of appropriately trained officers available statewide.

    What are three things elected officials and community leaders should know about CIT best practices? 

    CIT is more than just training officers. When done correctly, it is about building effective crisis response systems that involve law enforcement, mental health professionals, and individuals with lived experience (peers and family members) and advocates.

    CIT does not mean the same thing throughout the State of Utah. The benefits of a best practice CIT program should be available statewide.

    Elected officials can serve as effective champions for best practice CIT and can help ensure CIT is properly funded.

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