CIT Utah believes in the core elements of the CIT Memphis model. We believe that CIT is more than just training. We believe that a Crisis Intervention Team should be a true specialized team where CIT Officers receive regular trainings and conduct regular meetings, just as any other specialized team within law enforcement. We are united with the CIT Memphis Center, CIT International, NAMI National, Department of Justice, the US Attorney's Office, and the national experts involved in CIT programs throughout the country that advocate for fidelity to the CIT Memphis model.
The team component of the CIT Memphis model has diminished. Unfortunately, many law enforcement administrators actually believe the "T" in CIT represents "training" instead of "team". Many Utah law enforcement administrations train all officers within their agencies as CIT officers. One law enforcement agency even mandates their new recruits become certified as CIT officers before they are recognized by the State of Utah as law enforcement officers. Utah has few crisis intervention teams, but has a vast amount of law enforcement officers who have attended a CIT Academy.
CIT is actually team development training. It is advanced training for select officers who have a genuine interest with working with community resources to keep persons with behavioral health issues out of the criminal justice system. It is to train those select officers in not only understanding the available community resources, but the in-depth understanding of how the local behavioral health system works and the specific individuals to contact to help find the best outcome to a situation. It is to train select officers who understand, that by diverting individuals with behavioral health issues away from the criminal justice system into the behavioral healthcare system, will reduce criminal recidivism and jail usage. When an agency mandates all officers attend a CIT academy, the development of this type of expert officer and benefit to communities of having this type of expert officer, is greatly impaired.
To address this issue, CIT Utah offers an eight-hour behavioral health awareness and de-escalation training for all law enforcement officers in the State of Utah as an alternative to sending all officers to a forty-hour CIT academy. This training contains the same de-escalation tactics and techniques instructed during CIT academies. It provides some of the same training scenarios as CIT Academies. Our hope is that by utilizing both types of training, more agencies will see the value and community benefit of having true Crisis Intervention Teams and over time, will move towards this best practice.
However, the decision of which officers to train as CIT Officers and if all will be trained as CIT Officers will be left to each Chief or Sheriff.
In regards to the training of recruits, Portland Police Department trained all of their officers as CIT officers and moved the training into their police academy. Within a letter of findings by the Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office to the Portland Police Department, it was noted, “New recruits in a basic police academy are not ready to receive, absorb and implement critical information about how mental illness calls need a different response than the more common police calls. Trainees at that level are overwhelmed with information and generally lack the maturity that experience brings them on the street. Although basic mental health training should be provided to all officers as part of the academy, it is not the optimal time to provide extensive crisis intervention training.” We agree with these findings. Additionally, we agree with Director Scott Stephenson, of the Utah Police Officer Standards and Training, when he states that, “Rather than include CIT training for recruits, it is more helpful for the officer to go out into the field and gain some practical experience so that they will have a frame of reference while participating in the training.” Recruits in a police academy are not considered law enforcement officers until they have completed all required training hours and passed all mandated testing. CIT Academies recognized by the State of Utah are for certified law enforcement officers and therefore will not allow recruits to receive CIT Officer certification.
The CIT Utah Program, will continue to build and expand partnerships throughout Utah. The program's focus will be brought back to the basics of the model. The program's state administration will work with the regional program administration to begin to build true Crisis Intervention Teams. CIT Utah will strengthen the understanding that CIT is more than just training and encourage regional programs to build more effective crisis response systems. CIT Utah will begin to build partnerships in those regions in Utah that do not have a CIT program by providing the eight-hour training for their law enforcement officers.
One of the basic philosophies of CIT Utah's state administration aligns with a basic philosophy of CIT: collaboration. All CIT Regional Coordinators are members of an advisory council for the program's Board of Directors. And CIT Utah has a diverse Board of Directors that includes leaders from behavioral health services, law enforcement services, criminal justice services, and advocacy. Most are currently involved with the CIT Utah Program as Regional Coordinators or CIT Academy instructors. All are involved with the advancement of criminal justice and behavioral health services integration. The program's state administration is committed to making the CIT Utah program a nationally recognized best practice program.
CIT Utah offers law enforcement agencies an option of providing all of their officers crisis intervention and de-escalation skills trainings while also offering a 40-hour CIT Academy for those officers who are designated to represent their departments as experts in behavioral health issues and resolution.
This best practice regarding Crisis Intervention Team training has been noted in several investigative reports conducted by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office. These reports have consistently supported the fact that Crisis Intervention Team training is more than just training. That training of all law enforcement officers in crisis intervention skills and de-escalation skills is an absolute requirement, but having an actual specialized team of expert officers who are trained as Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officers, is essential.
For a review, please click on the reports below. Sections of each report discussing best practices regarding law enforcement's response to behavioral health calls for services have been highlighted for convenience.
Portland Police Department
Albuquerque Police DepartmentAlbuquerque Police Department Findings 4-10-14 Highlighted Sections.pdf
Cleveland Division of Police