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Practice Profile

Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs)

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:

No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Justice Systems or Processes - Processing of offenders
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Justice Systems or Processes - Use of Force

Practice Description

Practice Goals
Crisis intervention teams (CITs) use specialized police-led, pre-booking responses to divert individuals with mental illness. CITs consist of police officers who have undergone training in identifying and addressing serious mental illness. CITs are designed to reduce stigmatization around mental illness, and direct individuals with mental illness to needed treatment programs and away from arrest. The goals are to reduce police officers’ injuries, reduce arrests of individuals with mental illness, minimize officers’ use of force, and increase mentally ill individuals’ diversion from the criminal justice system and their access to mental health services.

Practice Components
The original CIT model (called the Memphis Model) was developed by the Memphis Police Department in 1988 to shift police roles and organizational priorities to a service-oriented model that responds to mental illness as a community safety and public health concern (Watson et al. 2010). As both law enforcers and community resources, police officers are trained to 1) recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness, 2) de-escalate situations using crisis-response techniques, and 3) develop partnerships with mental health service providers and leverage community resources. CIT police officers are taught about mental illness and trained to handle crises, so they can divert individuals away from the criminal justice system to responsive mental health services.

Topics covered by training may include risk assessment/intervention, child and adolescent disorders, geriatric disorders, legal issues, and departmental procedures. Role-play exercises may also be part of the training, so police officers can practice their learned skills (Watson et al. 2010). Trainings are usually 40 hours long and conducted by police trainers, local mental health professionals, family advocates, and consumer groups (Compton et al. 2014).

Meta-Analysis Outcomes

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No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Justice Systems or Processes - Processing of offenders
Looking at the results from five studies, Taheri (2016) found no statistically significant differences between Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)-trained police officers and non-trained police officers in arrests of individuals with mental illness.
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Justice Systems or Processes - Use of Force
Looking at the results from five studies, Taheri (2016) found no statistically significant differences in use of force between CIT-trained police officers and non-trained police officers in situations involving mentally ill individuals.
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Meta-Analysis Methodology

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Meta-Analysis Snapshot
 Literature Coverage DatesNumber of StudiesNumber of Study Participants
Meta-Analysis 12006 - 201461518

Meta-Analysis 1
Taheri (2016) conducted a meta-analysis to examine the effectiveness of police-led crisis intervention teams (CITs). Studies’ eligibility was determined using the following criteria: 1) the use of CIT was the focus of the intervention; 2) individuals with mental illness (serious or otherwise) were the target of the intervention; 3) there was an outcome measure of official or officer-reported arrests of a person with mental illness, police officer use of force, or police officer injury; and 4) the evaluation design was quasi-experimental or experimental. A comprehensive search for eligible studies was conducted, using electronic bibliographic databases, searches of literature reviews on CITs, searches of bibliographies of eligible evaluation reports, searches on a research database maintained by a national organization (e.g., CIT International), a forward citation search using Google Scholar, and contacts with leading researchers.

The search yielded 820 records. Of those, only seven were deemed eligible and included in the meta-analysis. All seven studies relied on quasi-experimental designs. The studies took place in Akron, Ohio; Bloomington, Ind.; Chicago, Ill.; Escambia County and Pinellas County, Fla.; multiple cities in Georgia; and in New South Wales, Australia. Of the five studies reporting age, race, and gender of the police officers, the sampled officers ranged from 20 to just over 60 years of age, and the majority were male and white. On average, the police officers had 11 to 12 years of experience.

The standardized mean difference effect size (Cohen’s d) was used to compare effects across the studies. The random effects model was used to analyze data. The arrest outcome was measured as officer self-reported number of arrests, official arrest record, or arrest rates. Use of force was measured as self-reported use of force, official records of incidents, or the rate at which officers used force.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this practice.
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Other Information

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The studies included in the Taheri (2016) meta-analysis provided insufficient information to estimate the effects of the practice on police officer injuries.
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Evidence-Base (Meta-Analyses Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Meta-Analysis 1
Taheri, Sema A. 2016. “Do Crisis Intervention Teams Reduce Arrests and Improve Officer Safety? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Criminal Justice Policy Review 27(1):76–96.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Compton, Michael T., Roger Bakeman, Beth Broussard, Dana Hankerson-Dyson, Letheshia Husbands, Shaily Krishan, Tarianna Stewart-Hutto, Barbara M. D’Orio, Janet R. Oliva, Nancy J. Thompson, and Amy C. Watson. 2014. “The Police-Based Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Model: II. Effects on Level of Force and Resolution, Referral, and Arrest.” Psychiatric Services 65(4):523–29.

Watson, Amy C., Victor C. Ottati, Melissa Morabito, Jeffrey Draine, Amy N. Kerr, and Beth Angell. 2010. “Outcomes of Police Contacts with Persons with Mental Illness: The Impact of CIT.” Administration and Policy in Mental Health 37:302–17.
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Practice Snapshot

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Other, White

Targeted Population: Mentally Ill Offenders

Settings: High Crime Neighborhoods/Hot Spots, Other Community Setting

Practice Type: Community and Problem Oriented Policing, Crisis Intervention/Response, Diversion, Violence Prevention

Unit of Analysis: Persons