Crisis Intervention Team
In 2003, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office began training a number of deputies in crisis intervention skills, so that we might provide better services to the mentally ill in our community. About 5 percent of Americans suffer from a serious mental illness, according to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). Many more have milder diagnoses or experience suicidal thoughts.
Because of the nature of some of these illnesses, mentally ill citizens may be more likely to have contact with police. The law enforcement approach to crises involving the mentally ill has changed. Today, more deputies have the skills to identify characteristics of mental illness, the ability to intervene in a crisis, and the resources to help the person in question.
The crisis intervention program has educated thousands of officers throughout Colorado, including more than 150 at the Sheriff's Office. The program involves selective recruitment of officers and an intense 40-hour training course involving expert lecturers, role-playing scenarios with actors, and visits to local mental health facilities. Once certified in crisis intervention, the deputies are dubbed CITs, for Crisis Intervention Team. CIT deputies wear a pin (pictured above) on their uniforms.
Today, a CIT-trained deputy will respond to most incidents involving mental health issues or suicide attempts in Jefferson County. Of course, a deputy isn't a doctor. But the more education a deputy has in assessing and defusing a crisis, the better.
Helpful Local Resources
Here are two organizations that can help citizens with mental health questions or problems:
Juvenile Assessment Center: 720-497-7770, www.jeffcojac.org
Jefferson Center for Mental Health: 303-425-0300, www.jeffersonmentalhealth.org
Oct 29, 2010 03:31 PM