HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Pine Belt law enforcement and agents learned how to De-escalate crisis situations Thursday with the regional Certified Intervention Team.
Crisis Intervention Team, known as CIT is a program that serves as a model for community policing that brings together law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency departments and individuals with mental illness and their families to improve responses to people in crisis.
CIT programs enhance communication, identify mental health resources for assisting people in crisis and ensure that officers get the training and support that they need.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, CIT programs provide officers with 40 hours of intensive training, that includes:
Learning from mental health professionals and experienced officers in your community. One of the reasons CIT is successful is that it connects officers with a team of clinicians and fellow officers who can advise, problem-solve and support them when a challenging situation occurs.
Personal interaction with people who have experienced and recovered from mental health crisis and with family members who have cared for loved ones with mental illness. NAMI members present at the training, providing officers a first-hand opportunity to hear stories of recovery, ask questions and learn what helps (and harms) when a person is in a crisis.
Verbal de-escalation skills. CIT teaches a new set of skills for ensuring officer safety – the words, approach and body language that convince a person to get help, or defuse a potentially violent encounter.
Scenario-based training on responding to crises. With the help of volunteers or actors, officers practice their skills in common crisis situations, and get immediate feedback from instructors and classmates.
A national CIT training curriculum model was developed through a partnership between NAMI, the University of Memphis CIT Center, CIT International and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The curriculum provides an outline for local programs to follow and programs often innovate within these guidelines to meet local needs.
The benefits include:
CIT gives officers more tools to do their job safely and effectively. It helps keep people with mental illness out of jail, and get them into treatment, where they are more likely to get on the road to recovery.