Partners of the York County criminal justice system, the mental health system, consumers, and family members came together to form a committee to implement a Crisis Intervention Team using the ‘Memphis Model’ as the program guideline. CIT is a community partnership between criminal justice agencies working with mental health professionals to create a team of trained law enforcement professionals who are readily available to people with mental illness in crisis to more appropriate resources. The philosophy is to provide a more humane and calm approach in the dealing with those exhibiting a mental health crisis as well as integrating the police and the community for common goals of safety, understanding, and service to those with mental illness and their families.
As a result of the de-institutionalization of the mentally ill and the resulting increase in involvement of those with mental illness in the criminal justice system, in 1988, the Memphis Police Department partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and local universities to organize, train and implement a specialized unit of trained police officers. This unit of police officers would respond to mental health consumers in a crisis to divert them from further involvement in the criminal justice system. The Memphis CIT has become a nationally recognized model that effectively, humanely, and safely addresses those in mental health crisis on the street.
How does it work?
Police Officers apply and share why this training is important for them to attend. After being selected, each officer will receive 40 hours of specialized training, to more effectively and safely deal with someone having a mental health crisis. Officers receive special designation as CIT officers. The 911 operators are trained to identify situations involving those in mental health crisis. The operator then contacts a CIT officer on duty to respond to the crisis. The CIT officer is the lead officer when responding to a scene. Officers work with the community to deescalate and safely divert these individuals from entering the criminal justice system.
CIT in York County
Since the York County CIT training was initiated in 2010, over 600 individuals have been trained. Among them are officers from 14 different police departments, the York County Sheriff’s Department, York County Prison, York and UPMC Hospital Security Department as well as the Pennsylvania State Police Chaplain.
The current coordinators of the program are Dr. Kathleen Jansen, WellSpan Behavioral health; Sgt. Ken Schollenberger, York Area Regional Police Department; Katherine Gruver, Adult Probation/Parole Supervisor, York County Probation Services, and Desiree Irvin, Executive Director, NAMI York Adams Counties PA.
NAMI plays an important role in the training by providing perspectives from both the individual living with a mental health condition and the family. CIT trainees visit the NAMI office and participate in round table discussions with staff and individuals. As part of the training, NAMI presents In Our Own Voice program and a presentation about mental health stigma. We welcome volunteers to assist us with this training. Please visit our volunteer page for more information.