The Georgia Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program is a collaboration of professionals committed to assisting persons with mental illnesses and other brain disorders. This collaboration includes local members of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental health service providers, family members, and law enforcement officers. The most important aspect of the CIT Program is the training provided to law enforcement officers.
CIT trains law enforcement officers to effectively and humanely interact with persons with mental illness. The CIT course is a 40-hour, five-day curriculum that is approved by the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST)Council. It is comprised of both classroom instruction and practical exercises delivered by mental health professionals, other subject matter experts and CIT law enforcement instructors.
When a public safety situation occurs involving a person in psychiatric crisis, law enforcement officers will be the first responders. The officers are responsible for handling the incident in the most professional manner possible. CIT training provides officers with the tools to professionally and humanely interact with persons with mental illness. Often situations involving psychiatric crises are higher risk and may escalate quickly into a situation where use of force may be a necessity. The CIT training will provide officers with skills that can minimize risk to responding officers and the person in crisis and may prevent the need to use force all together. Although the use of force may ultimately be necessary in some situations, we know from experience that the de-escalation skills learned in CIT training often reduce the level of needed force. Also these communication skills can be an invaluable tool to officers in their regular duties.
The SPD Training Unit extends the opportunity for other agencies in surrounding areas to attend CIT Training when it is offered at SPD. Since the program’s inception at SPD, approximately 750 officers have become certified CIT Officers.