CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) was developed in 1988 by the Memphis Police Department after the shooting of a person with diagnosed mental illness. After the shooting, MPD, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the University of Tennessee Medical School collaborated on a program to address police encounters with those with mental illness in the community.
Currently our team is comprised of 16 officers who are trained in CIT. These officers are assigned to various parts of our agency including all three patrol shifts and our schools. At minimum, each CIT officer attends a 40 hour training course which covers an overview of mental illness and specific de-escalation strategies. Each prospective CIT officer must receive approval from their immediate supervisor before being selected as a CIT officer.
When our dispatch center receives a 911 call involving someone who may be in crisis due to some form of mental illness, the dispatcher will attempt to assign a CIT officer to accompany other responding officers to the call. We have worked with our dispatch center (Northwest Central Dispatch) in identifying those officers with CIT training credentials. Once at the location, CIT officers will work with the person and/or family to connect them with the services they need, especially if they will not immediately be transported to the hospital.