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Dealing with individuals who have mental illness: the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) in law enforcement

Samuel L. Browning ( Clinical Psychology Doctoral Candidate, based at the Center for Psychological Studies, Nova Southeastern University, Davie, Florida, USA)
Vincent B. Van Hasselt (Professor of Psychology and Criminal Justice, based at the Center for Psychological Studies, Nova Southeastern University, Davie, Florida, USA)
Abigail S. Tucker (Clinical Psychologist at the Community Reach Center, Thornton, Colorado, USA)
Gregory M. Vecchi (Unit Chief at the Behavioral Science Unit, FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia, USA)

The British Journal of Forensic Practice

ISSN: 1463-6646

Article publication date: 16 November 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The current paper seeks to outline the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) and review extant research regarding its efficacy in reducing criminalization of people with mental illness, as well as improving interactions between this population and law enforcement officers.

Design/methodology/approach

The CIT model and theoretical underpinnings are discussed and an evaluative review of the current literature is presented.

Findings

Research on the CIT model has generally shown improved officer and community safety; better mental healthcare for those in need; and decreased criminalization of those with mental illness. Methodologies have included the use of records reviews and officer surveys, primarily.

Practical implications

Implications in the practice of law enforcement and psychology include decreasing criminalization of those with mental illness; reducing the frequency of police use of force; minimizing injury to consumers and law enforcement officers; and connecting people with mental illness to needed psychological/psychiatric resources.

Social implications

Success of CIT has wider social implications, such as decreasing stigma regarding mental illness and fear of involving police in mental health related crises.

Originality/value

The authors provide a summary of the CIT model in the context of law enforcement's response to people with mental illness; highlight important research to date; discuss implications of the programme; and suggest directions for future research in the area of CIT.

Keywords

Citation

Browning, S.L., Van Hasselt, V.B., Tucker, A.S. and Vecchi, G.M. (2011), "Dealing with individuals who have mental illness: the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) in law enforcement", The British Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 235-243. https://doi.org/10.1108/14636641111189990

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited