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Crisis Intervention Teams

Background:   Police officers interact with an increasing number of mentally ill individuals, often resulting in needless force or fatal interactions.  Following the shooting death of a 27-year-old who struggled with mental illness and cocaine use, a new approach called the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model of policing was born.  Many police departments now have Crisis Intervention Teams to deescalate mental health crises and avoid arrests by directing individuals into treatment programs.

Assignment: The objective of this assignment is to evaluate the effectiveness of Crisis Intervention Teams.  Some studies show that Crisis Intervention Teams are successful in reducing force and providing treatment for mentally ill offenders, while other studies show fewer advantages of such teams.

Students are to use two journal articles relating to the effectiveness of Crisis Intervention Teams.

Directions:

  • Section 1: Introduction: Make an introductory statement about Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) and explain the purpose of your paper.
  • Section 2: Summarize the main points of the two articles, including how Crisis Intervention Teams are used.
  • Section 3:   Compare and contrast the authors’ perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages of Crisis Intervention Teams.  Do the authors reach the same conclusions?  How are their perspectives alike and how do they differ?   Did the authors conclude that the program was an effective use of resources or not?  Did the authors find that Crisis Intervention Teams decrease force and provide treatment for mentally ill offenders?  Provide supporting statistics.
  • Section 4: Conclusion: Provide a focused, concise conclusion based on your analysis of the articles, explaining why Crisis Intervention Teams should or should not be used.

Format Requirements

  • Paper must be double spaced, 11 or 12 pt font and 1” margins all around.
  • All APA 7th edition format requirements must be followed (cover page, in text citations, reference page). Refer to APA/UMGC – learning resources found in the content page of this course.
  • You must have resources to support your thoughts/opinions/information.  These must be cited both in text as well as at the end of the document. Your paper should not contain direct quotes; sourced material must be paraphrased.

Sample Solution

Crisis Intervention Teams

 

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Crisis Intervention Teams

           The increasing cases of police brutality have changed public perception of police officers significantly. However, many instances of police brutality result from law enforcement officers attempting to protect themselves and the public. According to Fleischmann, Strode, Broussard, & Compton (2018), law enforcement is a dangerous career that often involves violence and threat to the officer’s lives. To avoid the utilization of unnecessary force during arrests, police agencies have resorted to training their officers to handle different situations and scenarios on a case-by-case basis rather than having a blanket policy. Among these are Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs) that seek to educate law enforcement officers on dealing with offenders who have a mental illness. CITs are a union between police officers and mental health professionals intended to ensure that mentally ill offenders receive the best rehabilitation possible. According to Canada, Angell, & Watson (2010), seven percent of all first responders’ calls involve people with mental health problems. Since the duty of every police officer is to protect and serve all and sundry, police agencies must come up with methods that will meet both the needs of the mentally ill and ensure community safety. This is what necessitated the coming about of Crisis Intervention Teams. This paper will look into how CITs have been beneficial to law enforcement officers and mentally ill offenders by analyzing two academic articles on the subject. These articles are ‘Law enforcement officers’ perceptions of and responses to traumatic events: a survey of officers completing Crisis Intervention Team training’ and ‘Crisis intervention teams in Chicago: Successes on the ground’. It will then offer an inferred opinion on whether CITs should continue or be phased out.

Impact on the treatment of mentally ill suspects

According to Canada et al. (2010), one of the most challenging things about calls involving offenders with mental illness is that they are very time-consuming as officers look for ways to calm the situation down. The officers’ tasks are threefold in those situations: minding the welfare of the mentally ill offender, protecting the community from the offender, and protecting themselves from harm. Canada et al. (2010) note that one of the core teachings of Crisis Intervention Teams is to enhance officer preparedness in dealing with those circumstances and promote officer safety. Officers who have this training are more cognizant of the challenges people with mental issues undergo and are better equipped to them safely with the respect and dignity they deserve. These enhanced interactions serve to make sure that situations that would otherwise have been violent or deadly are deescalated without causing harm to anyone.

Canada et al. (2010) further posit that since police have the liberty to decide what to do with the suspects when they respond to distress calls, getting CIT training comes in handy. It allows them to decide whether to free the suspect, send him to jail, or commit him to a mental institution. A study by these authors found that officers with Crisis Intervention Teams training show a higher level of preparedness when dealing with the mentally disabled than their colleagues who have not. Additionally, they have a better attitude toward the mentally ill. They appreciate and respect them despite their illness instead of perceiving them as outcasts. Canada et al. (2010) also note that since these officers go under comprehensive training on mental health, they understand the effects mental illness has on behavior. Those without the training may think that a suspect is being intentionally obnoxious, rebellious, or even violent and treat him using unnecessary force. The authors gave an example of a police officer who intimated that while going through the training, he was told to wear headphones with a loud voice and hold a conversation with the trainer at the same time. It was an exercise in futility because the voices coming from the earphones could not allow him to focus on what the trainer was telling him. This helped him get a better grasp of what mentally ill people go through and why they behave the way they do, helping his future interactions with them.

Another benefit of CITs is the elimination of stigma toward mentally ill suspects. When the trained officers manage to deescalate situations safely, the public learns that those people need help rather than ridicule and segregation. CITs also ensure that mentally ill offenders are taken to mental facilities to get the help they need instead of being sent to jail. Canada et al. (2010) note that this improved access to mental health services serves them better than being sent to jail and then being released back to the community without any mental health treatment. Due to CITs, Canada et al. (2010) observe that multiple police agencies across the country have been posting significantly lower arrest rates for mentally ill suspects.

Additionally, CITs help officers differentiate between the behaviors of mentally ill people and those under the influence of drugs or alcohol, something that untrained officers may struggle to do. It has also helped in suicide prevention significantly since officers understand the thinking pattern of the mentally ill and have the patience to deal with them. In the past, mentally ill suspects who were not committed to the criminal justice system were sent to hospitals that would release them quickly without addressing their mental needs. CITs allow officers to work with community-based organizations and mental health professionals to get them the help they need and reduce the chances of recidivism.

Impact on the mental health of police officers

Although Crisis Intervention Teams were originally intended to help police learn how to handle mentally ill suspects, Fleischmann et al. (2018) note that the program has also helped police officers deal with their own mental health issues better. Because of the dangerous nature of policing, where officers often see unabated violence or badly mutilated victims, many officers suffer from trauma in their line of duty and often have no one to talk to. Fleischmann et al. (2018) note that once law enforcement officers undergo traumatic events in their lives, they would rather seek help outside their agencies for fear of stigmatization. Due to trauma, officers undergoing mental health issues may resort to quitting their jobs, isolating from others, domestic problems, drug use, poor job performance, or even suicide (Fleischmann et al., 2018). A survey of officers by the authors showed that most chose to seek help outside their agencies to avoid stigma, being perceived as weak, or a change of assignments that may involve drastic measures like withdrawal of firearms.

However, the introduction of CITs has helped officers become more embracing of their own mental health issues as well. According to Fleischmann et al. (2018), more police officers die via suicide more than anything else. A study conducted in Quebec showed that after Crisis Intervention Teams training, the suicide rate among police officers reduced by seventy-nine percent. There was a stark increase in the number of police officers who reported traumatic events to their agencies instead of seeking help elsewhere. This showed that the training helped the officers end stigmatization toward mentally ill offenders and allowed them to look at themselves in a different light and seek help. Such officers are more likely to be more hesitant to pull the trigger on a rowdy or uncooperative suspect because they understand that mental illness is an illness like any other and does not justify harsh treatment.

Conclusion

Crisis Intervention Teams have gone a long way in reducing the number of violent arrests of mentally ill suspects. According to Canada et al. (2010), they have also improved the way law enforcement officers learn how to treat difficult suspects whose behavior is motivated by mental illness. Fleischmann et al. (2018) note that the program has also been beneficial to police officers and helped them better understand their mental health. The two articles show that this is a program worth having and spreading to more police agencies across the world. Canada et al. (2010) note that the biggest challenge to the program is the lack of resources that either leads to a lack of officer training or having a proper mechanism to send trained officers to situations that need their expertise. To avoid the numerous situations where police officers are forced to kill or maim mentally ill suspects for the sake of their safety and that of the community, and to ensure that mentally ill people get the help they so badly need reintegrate peacefully into society, the government ought to invest more in CITs.

 

 

References:

Canada, K. E., Angell, B., & Watson, A. C. (2010). Crisis intervention teams in Chicago:

Successes on the ground. Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations10(1-2), 86-100.

Fleischmann, M. H., Strode, P., Broussard, B., & Compton, M. T. (2018). Law enforcement officers’ perceptions of and responses to traumatic events: a survey of officers completing Crisis Intervention Team training. Policing and Society28(2), 149-156.