What is CIT?
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What is CIT?
- CIT History & Facts - Additional Information - Videos


What is the Crisis Intervention Team Program (CIT)?

CIT is a collaborative approach to support individuals in the community struggling with a mental health challenge or crisis. CIT is a program, that when effectively implemented in communities, has 4 goals:

  1. To improve safety during law enforcement encounters with people experiencing a mental health crisis, for everyone involved.
  2. To increase connections to effective and timely mental health services for people in a mental health crisis.
  3. To use law enforcement strategically during crisis situations – such as when there is an imminent threat to safety or a criminal concern – and increase the role of mental health professionals, peer support specialists, and other community supports.
  4. To reduce the trauma that people experience during a mental health crisis and thus contribute to their long-term recovery.

In order to effectively implement the CIT program in communities, a network of relationships must be developed by law enforcement, mental health providers, peers and family, and advocates in order to effectively produce a community-wide response and develop a robust crisis system. The intent of CIT is to build a system and community in which law enforcement takes on a supportive role to the mental health system and community resources.

CIT consists of core elements that contribute to the leading goals of reducing injuries to individuals and officers and diverting individuals with mental health concerns from the criminal justice system to the healthcare and mental health care system. This includes developing strong relationships and partnerships in order to develop systems and resources that meet the unique needs of the communities through regional councils. Developing policies and procedures at various levels to support individuals experiencing a mental health crisis or challenge. Implementing data collection procedures to track the effectiveness of interventions and resources and identifying areas of need or gaps within systems. CIT training for first responders, including dispatch and emergency medical services, consists of an initial 40 hour training as well as on-going trainings with updated information that target the needs of the area. The final component of CIT is recognition of the community and law enforcement responses and celebrating the work that is being accomplished by those parties. It is important that CIT recognizes the work being completed by the partners on the front lines, and the quality of life improvements being made by the dedicated community members.


CIT History & Facts

CIT was founded in 1988 in Memphis, TN following a high profile shooting of a young man experiencing a mental health crisis. The Memphis Police Department then reviewed use of force incidents leading to the shooting and found that mental health crises frequently were linked to use of force. Memphis Police then partnered with NAMI Memphis, the University of TN at Memphis, and the University of Memphis to develop a comprehensive and collaborative approach to supporting individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. CIT International now refers to this as a 5-legged stool in which there equal importance is placed on 1) police training, 2) community collaboration, 3) a vibrant and accessible crisis system, 4) behavioral health staff training, and 5) family, peer, and advocate involvement.

Today, CIT is implemented in 2,000 communities across 40 states. Maine is one of 7 states that has implemented the CIT program state wide and is considered in the top-tier of community program implementation. Maine was able to implement CIT following the receipt of a grant in 2000. The initial program in Maine was implemented with the Portland Police Department, NAMI Maine, Ingraham Crisis Services, and Spring Harbor Hospital. Since that time NAMI Maine has been the leader in CIT implementation including adapting CIT to rural communities and to correctional settings. 

NAMI Maine was the recipient of the 2007 SAMHSA Science to Service Awards due to the implementation of CIT across the state.

CIT has two primary goals:

  • To improve officer and peer/family/community safety
  • To help a person experiencing a mental health or addiction challenge access the medical/mental health services they require rather than placing them in the criminal justice system due to illness related behaviors

Research supports that when implemented with fidelity as a community program, these goals are achieved throughout communities.


Additional Information About CIT:

 Core Elements of the CIT Program

CIT: A Best Practice Guide for Transforming Community Responses to Mental Health Crises

CIT Methods for Using Data to Inform Practice: A Step-by-Step Guide