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Crisis Intervention


Crisis Intervention Training

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is a well-documented and successful model of improving police interactions with people experiencing acute episodes of mental illness. The training is designed to educate and prepare police officers who come into contact with people in crisis, to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and to respond effectively and appropriately to the individual.

Because police officers are often the first responders in these incidents, it is essential that they understand how mental illnesses can alter people’s behaviors and perceptions. The trained CIT Officer is skilled at recognizing and de-escalating crises involving people with acute episodes of mental illness, while bringing an element of understanding and compassion to these difficult situations.

The goal of the CIT program is to reduce unnecessary restraint and incarceration of people with mental illness and to provide individuals with appropriate treatment in the community.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is CIT?

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program is a collaboration of professionals committed to assisting persons with mental illnesses and other brain disorders.  This collaboration includes local members of the mental health service providers, family members, and law enforcement officers.  The most important aspect of the CIT Program is the training provided to law enforcement officials.

What is CIT Training?

CIT trains law enforcement officers to effectively and humanely interact with persons with mental illness.  The CIT course is a 40-hour, five day curriculum that is approved by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).  It is comprised of both classroom instruction and practical exercises delivered by mental health professionals, other subject matter experts, and CIT law enforcement instructors.

Why is CIT important?

Law enforcement officers respond to public safety situations involving persons in psychiatric crisis.  These situations have the potential to be high risk to all involved and consequently require a trained response.  CIT training provides officers with knowledge and practical skills that can be used when dealing with persons with mental illness.

Why police officers should attend CIT training?

When a public safety situation occurs involving a person in psychiatric crisis, law enforcement officers will be the first responders.  The officers are responsible for handling the incident in the most professional manner possible.  CIT training provides officers with the tools to professionally and humanely interact with persons with mental illness.

How does a police department benefit from officers attending CIT training?

CIT Training equips officers with the skills necessary to appropriately respond to psychiatric crises.  These situations may be high risk and may escalate into a use of force incident.  The CIT training provides officers with skills that can minimize risk to themselves and the person in crisis and may prevent the need to use force.

What do officers gain from CIT Training?

Officers learn communication skills that can assist in effectively interfacing with persons in psychiatric crisis.  These skills can minimize the use of force in many instances, thus protecting both the officers involved and the person in crisis.  Although the use of force may ultimately be necessary in some situations, we know from experience that the de-escalation skills learned in CIT training often reduce the level of needed force.  Also these communication skills can be an invaluable tool to officers in their regular duties.

Why does the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) strongly support the CIT program?

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) investigated numerous law enforcement “use of force” incidents each year in which officers or other involved persons are seriously injured or killed.  DCJS believes that CIT training can provide officers with knowledge and de-escalation skills which may decrease the necessity to use force in certain situations.  DCJS further believes that the CIT program is an integral part of law enforcement professionalism.

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