In the interest of improving Brookings community’s response to mental health crises, representatives from law enforcement, the hospital emergency room, East Central Behavioral Health (ECBH), local and state National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI), and Brookings Empowerment Project (BEP) met to view the NAMI webinar, “Starting a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program: Steps for Success.”
The webinar explained that a CIT program is a model for community policing that brings community entities together, along with those individuals and families affected by mental illness, to improve responses to those in crisis and ensures that officers get the training and support they need to address these crises. CIT is a national program that serves to provide an outline for “grass roots,” community involvement and ownership in seeking solutions to mental health crises and can be adapted to fit the unique needs of each community. Successful CIT programs require passionate commitment and close working relationships from its key leaders.
Effective CIT programs not only meet the needs of people in mental illness crisis, but they also improve officer and community safety while saving public money by reducing the number of re-arrests.
A few observations by participants following the webinar included: the challenge of funding the week-long officer training; speculation that crises needs will increase as Brookings youth enter the adult world; the importance of sustaining a passionate program; CIT may be a good program fit for Brookings as we would be able to learn and benefit from Sioux Falls current involvement with CIT.
Click to view the PowerPoint information (no audio) from “Starting a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program: Steps for Success”: