CIT Facts & Benefits

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Model was first developed and implemented in 1988 as a result of a partnership between the Memphis, TN Police Department, the University of Memphis, The University of Tennessee and the Memphis chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The team was developed to address the special challenges to law enforcement posed by persons with mental illness and to better serve the community.

The Memphis Police Department experienced significant benefits as a result of using the CIT model. Other departments around the country who have implemented CIT’s are experiencing similar benefits:

  • Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) are now active in close to 500 urban, suburban, and rural police departments across the country. They are modeled after teams originally developed by the Memphis Police in 1988.
  • CIT is community-based. As an innovative program, the CIT model encourages communities, families, law enforcement officers, and mental health professionals to work together.
    • Ideally, CIT Officers will learn about specific services available within their region and build crucial relationships with those service providers at the training.
    • As police work more with families and develop relationships with resources within the community, the possibility for excessive force complaints, litigation and the inevitable from the community can be reduced.
  • CIT training is tactically sound for the officer safety. CIT training does not discourage the use of lethal force when an officer’s life or the lives of innocent bystanders are in danger. Even the best trained CIT officer may have to use deadly force.
  • CIT training increases an officer’s confidence and provides additional information to officers to make safe decisions. Too often, officers have had to respond to crisis calls where they feel at a disadvantage or place in a no-win situation.
  • CIT teaches officers to think creatively. Traditional police methods, myths about mental illness, and a lack of knowledge have caused fear and frustration for consumers of mental health services and their families. Unfortunately, it is usually after a tragedy that police departments look for change. As a proactive program, CIT acts as a model committed to preventing tragic situations when possible and finding “win-win” solutions for all persons concerned.