The Portland Police Department has been recognized by the U.S. Justice Department for success integrating Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training throughout their department and the city. They were selected as one of six Learning Centers nationwide. As a Learning Center they will provide assistance to other departments across the nation to expand their mental health response capability. Their efforts started nine years ago with NAMI Maine's assistance.
In 2001, a small amount of grant funding allowed NAMI to organize and send a team from Portland Maine to Memphis Tennessee to learn how to start a Crisis Intervention Team – a community policing program that had dramatically reduced arrests, the use of restraint, and public complaints about how Memphis police officers responded to persons experiencing a psychiatric crisis. NAMI Maine, the Portland Police Department, Ingraham, and Maine Medical Center’s Emergency Department each committed staff to start Maine’s first specialized group of trainers to instruct Maine law enforcement personnel in de-escalation skills and intervention techniques when responding to mental health crises. Although the Portland police department had been partnering with Ingraham for several years to send a “ride-along” mental health clinician with officers when they responded to people with mental illness, that clinician was not available for every call. Establishing CIT would assure at least one appropriately trained officer on every shift. Once CIT was established in Portland, the Chief of Police also authorized his lead CIT officer to join NAMI in promoting and creating CIT teams statewide. With grant dollars NAMI obtained from the Maine Health Access Foundation and another nine private funders, CIT has expanded across the state and into Maine’s jails. Now there are over 1,000 CIT officers in over 200 locations in Maine, with more receiving CIT and Child CIT training through NAMI Maine's contract with the State of Maine.