While the movement of persons with mental illness from institutions to the community has been a positive change for most people with psychiatric disabilities, some of the most severely mentally ill have slipped through the cracks. Left untreated, the sometimes irrational or dangerous behavior engaged by some individuals with mental illness makes it necessary for public safety personnel to respond.
In response to this the Darien Police Department has formed a Crisis Intervention Team (C.I.T.). The objective of this unit is to form a community partnership designed to set a standard of excellence with respect to the treatment of individuals with mental illness, improving the quality of life for an entire community.
When officers deal with the mentally ill, traditional police training is not necessarily what works best and can often escalate potentially volatile situations. The primary goal for the specially trained officers of the C.I.T. is to promote safety for all involved and to link the person in crisis to services in the community whenever possible.
C.I.T. officers are selected from a list of volunteers from the patrol division and selection is organized to train enough officers to cover each shift. Candidates are chosen based on their police skill, compassion, patience and the ability to think creatively.
These officers are trained in:
- Mental illness and substance abuse
- The mental health system
- Safe de-escalation techniques
- Suicide by Cop
- Suicide assessment and prevention
- Children's mental health and trauma
- Mental health and the law
- Excited delirium
- Real life family and consumer perspectives on living with mental illness
The implementation of C.I.T. in law enforcement during the past 20 years has produced a number of benefits:
- Reduction in use of lethal force
- Reduction in officer injuries
- Reduction in injuries to persons in crisis
- Reduction in SWAT call outs
- Reduction in time officers are "tied up"
- Reduction in emergency room recidivism
- Improvement in community relations
- Increased professionalism