How it works

Valid candidates are selected

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. Dispatchers, first line supervisors and management personnel should also take the training.

In the Scranton area, CIT has served as a springboard for a broader collaboration between the criminal justice and mental health systems.  Correctional officers, dispatchers, EMTs, hospital safety officers, probation and parole officers and mental health providers have participated in CIT trainings. 

The Training

One forty hour week of training covers:

  • Mental Health Challenges/Mental Illness Overview
  • The mental health system and local resources
  • Safe de-escalation techniques/Scenario based training
  • Suicide assessment and prevention
  • Legal, liability, policy and procedures
  • Real life family and consumer perspectives on living with mental illness
  • Embracing a global philosophy toward all aspects of cultural awareness, diversity, equality, and inclusion.

After one week of training

After the basic one-week training CIT Officers should be designated to handle all calls involving persons in psychiatric crisis and CIT Officers receive periodic updates and opportunities for continuing education.

Direct Benefits of Police CIT for Northeastern Pennsylvania

  • Mental health crisis response is quick
  • Consumers are provided care and access to mental health services
  • Consumers have enough trust to request CIT officers in a crisis
  • Use of force during crisis events will be decreased
  • Underserved or ignored consumers are identified by officers
  • Mental health consumers will volunteer to serve as integral participants in police training because trust is established
  • Mental health professionals will call the police for assistance in a crisis
  • Emergency commitment population will decrease as easier access for mental health services is achieved
  • Patient violence and use of restraints in the ER (emergency room) will be reduced due to the intervention of the CIT patrol and de-escalation of potentially volatile situations
  • Mental health professionals will volunteer and to lend expert instruction/supervision to CIT officers
  • Law enforcement officers will be better trained and educated (by using verbal de-escalation techniques)
  • There will be less officer injury during crisis events Officer recognition and positive publicity will increase in the community
  • Officer “down time” is significantly reduced on a crisis event after being trained as a CIT officer

CIT trained officers are part of a department’s regular patrol division.

A trained dispatcher alerts a CIT officer who is on duty at the time of a crisis to respond. By offering an immediate and calm approach, CIT officers reduce the likelihood of physical confrontation and personal injury to both the officer and the individual.

In Memphis, where CIT has been in operation since 1988, officer injury data has decreased seven-fold since the program’s inception.

CIT trained officers learn safe, verbal, and non-verbal de-escalation techniques that potentially reduce liability.

Ideally, 15-20% of a department’s patrol division should be trained in the CIT to ensure immediate response across all shifts.

CIT is an effective pre-arrest jail diversion program.

University of Tennessee studies have shown that the Memphis CIT program has resulted in a decrease in arrests rates for persons with mental illness, an impressive rate of diversion into the health care system, and a resulting low rate of mental illness in their jails. The Scranton Police Department reports a 66% reduction in the Use of Force since 2010, the year CIT was implemented in the department.

CIT instructors are an interdisciplinary team of mental health providers and law enforcement professionals.

No curriculum on this topic would be complete, however, without the voices of consumers of mental health services and their family members. Therefore, members of NAMI provide their perspective as members of this team.


Whenever possible, CIT training is offered to first responders, first receivers and related professionals at no cost. The training is currently being sponsored by a federal grant in support of the Lackawanna County De-Escalation and Crisis Intervention Collaboration Project.