Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs)
CITs are a frontline, specialized police response to persons in crisis. CITs, also known as the ‘Memphis Model’, were first formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1987, and possess two basic goals: (1) improve officer and consumer safety; and (2) direct persons in crisis to the mental health system as opposed to the criminal justice system. While the structure and composition of CITs vary widely by jurisdictional needs and resources, CITs are suggested to be comprised of 20-25% of an agency’s frontline officers who receive upwards of 40 hours of mental health training. These officers conduct normal duties while on patrol but are dispatched to crises when they occur. Other elements that are central to CIT include partnerships with community-based mental health services and the mental health system, ongoing evaluation and research, and more (see Dupont, Cochran, & Pillsbury, 2007).
Is the program based on research?
It is unclear whether the origins of CIT are based on research.
Has the program been independently evaluated?
Since the formation of CIT in Memphis, certain aspects of the program have been evaluated numerous times.
Since the formation of CIT in Memphis, certain aspects of the program have been evaluated numerous times. For example, research from the United States has shown that CIT officers have: improved knowledge of mental illness, improved attitudes towards persons in crisis, a higher tendency to direct persons in crisis to community-based care or a hospital as opposed to arrest, improved de-escalation skills, lowered use of force, and improved comfort and confidence when interacting with persons in crisis. Do note, however, that these results pertain to officer-level outcomes, which are not necessarily indicative of how well the CIT program works as a whole. Research beyond officer-level outcomes has been limited, to-date (Watson, Compton, & Draine, 2017).
Was the program rigorously tested?
To-date, CITs have not been rigorously tested at levels 4 or 5 of the Maryland Scientific Evidence Scale.
Has the program evaluation been replicated?
Studies associated with officer-level outcomes have reproduced/ replicated in numerous American jurisdictions, but little research has been generated on program-level outcomes, client-based outcomes and/or organizational-level outcome more generally (e.g., time spent waiting in ER is an organizational concern, not just an officer level outcome as it influences resources).
Was the program tested in Canada?
Although studies are underway, there is no published, peer-reviewed Canadian literature available at this time.
The evidence on CITs is promising, but more research is needed, particularly on other outcomes beyond the officer-level.
Assessor: Jacek Koziarski, University of Western Ontario
Jacek Koziarski is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology department at the University of Western Ontario, and a Research Associate for Can-SEBP. Jacek has a broad interest in policing research and developing evidence-based approaches to policing, but his most recent work has specifically focused on specialized police responses to persons in crisis, missing persons, the spatial analysis of crime, and hot spots policing.
Reviewer: Dr. Mary Ann Campbell, University of New Brunswick
Mary Ann Campbell is the Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies and Full Professor of Psychology at the University of New Brunswick. Her main area of research focuses on developing and enhancing the application of evidence-based strategies for crime prevention and reduction. To date, Dr. Campbell's research has included the study of criminal behaviour committed by adults, youths, and special populations; enhancing positive outcomes for justice-involved youth through evidence-based practice; and the evaluation of intervention programs aimed at crime prevention and risk reduction goals (e.g., mental health courts, chronic offender interventions, drug-treatment programs). Dr. Campbell has also been involved in projects evaluating the implementation of intelligence-led policing, application of community policing principles, and the enhancement of best practices in police work (e.g., police responses to intimate partner violence, credibility assessment methods).
Dupont, R., Cochran, S., & Pillsbury, S. (2007). Crisis Intervention core elements. The University of Memphis School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Memphis, TN: CIT Center.
Peterson, J & Densley, J (2018). Is Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training evidence-based practice? A systematic review, Journal of Crime and Justice, DOI:10.1080/0735648X.2018.1484303
Watson, A. C., Compton, M. T., & Draine, J. N. (2017). The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Model: An Evidence-Based Policing Practice? Behavioural Sciences & the Law, 1-11.