Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT): Considerations for Knowledge Transfer

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The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model, developed by the Memphis, Tennessee Police Department, exists in nearly 100 communities. This first responder system operates on a generalist-specialist model that uses specially trained volunteer officers to respond to behavioral health crises. CIT’s remarkable popularity and its wide distribution through metropolitan and medium sized police agencies demonstrate how system change can originate and be sustained by grass-roots efforts. Knowledge transfer and skill adoption of this Memphis model has occurred predominantly without external funding or mandates.

This article describes key factors contributing to the success or failure of implementing a new CIT program. Community readiness is discussed through the lens of the Transtheoretical Model of Change. Suggestions are offered for implementing and sustaining a viable program, based on the experience of Florida’s twenty operating programs. A description of the “lessons learned” from these communities may be useful to other considering system reform. The authors conclude by observing that, despite extremely positive anecdotal reports of CIT’s effectiveness, additional research needed to advance this “best practice” as an “evidence-based practice”.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Law Enforcement Executive Forum, v. 6, issue 3, p. 25-36