Psychiatric Staff Impressed With CIT Officers

Kate Sexton, Social Work Supervisor for Psychiatry and Chemical Dependency Services, has seen a big difference in the way CIT officers interact with the mentally ill. The CIT officers, indentifiable by their pins, "talk differently" from the regular patrol officer. She has found that CIT officers communicate more effectively, have a better understanding of the different mental illnesses, and do a better job of de-escalating crisis situations. CIT officers appear more interested, knowledgeable, and take more pride in working with the mentally ill.

Ms. Sexton has also seen a big improvement in communication between CIT officers and the doctors, supervisors, and other staff in the Emergency Psychiatric Center. The CIT officers are "sharing their stories" of how they have handled different crisis situations and solicit constructive feedback. Many are proactive, asking what can be done to help prevent future crises.

Dr. Wheatley, Assistant Professor at the Baylor College of Medicine and Medical Director of the Ben Taub Emergency Psychiatric Center, echoes the sentiments of Ms. Sexton. Dr. Wheatley has found CIT officers to be more "enthusiastic, interested, concerned, and knowledgeable of patient pathology." She stated that CIT officers often ask her for her opinion of how they handled a certain call. She also sees the pride these officers take in their jobs and their desire to do the best job they can.

Ms. Sexton and Dr. Wheatley both consider the CIT program a big success and believe it has already made a significant difference in how law enforcement interacts with the mentally ill in our community.