Crisis Intervention Team

What is C.I.T.? CIT is becoming a buzzword within the Houston Police Department and in law enforcement agencies across the state and nation. What exactly is it? Why do we have it?

CIT stands for Crisis Intervention Team, a voluntary team of patrol officers who receive 40 hours of experiential training in mental health issues and communication / de-escalation techniques. These officers, who comprise 25 percent of a division's patrol allocation, are dispatched to calls involving people in crisis, the vast majority of who are mentally ill. When not responding to crisis calls, the officers respond to routine patrol calls. Why just 25 percent? Because the officers' proficiency comes from the training and by responding to more calls.

Unfortunately, there are more mentally ill people on the streets today than ever before. When they go into crisis, the police are often going to be called out to deal with them. The main reason for law enforcement's involvement is that, under the Mental Health Code, law enforcement officers are the only ones with the authority to take a mentally ill individual, against his or her will, into custody for an emergency evaluation. Another reason for our involvement is that these are often volatile calls involving people who are a danger to themselves and / or others. Though statistics show that most mentally ill persons are not dangerous, we must often interact with that small population that is dangerous.