04-10-09 Boise Police Implement Crisis Intervention Team
Boise, April 10, 2009 – The Boise Police Department has completed training and is implementing a new Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).
- The goal of the Crisis Intervention Team is increased safety for the public, for officers, and for those dealing with a mental health crisis, or emotional issues brought on by substance abuse.
- The team is designed to give police more tools, training, and resources to try and diffuse crisis situations involving those with mental illness before those situations escalate to potential violence.
“We find with tactical training and diffusing techniques, officers are often able to calm these situations right at the very beginning,” said Lt. Ron Winegar of the Boise Police Department’s Patrol Division. Lt. Winegar is supervising the implementation of the BPD CIT.
“It’s one step in furthering our mission of public safety,” said Lt. Winegar.
"It's also important for citizens to know what the CIT is not," said Lt. Winegar. "It's not a magic bullet. Police tactics won't change if the public or officers are threatened. But hopefully, the CIT will help resolve more tense situations peacefully and keep the public, officers, and those dealing with mental illness safe."
COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR CIT:
The Boise Police Crisis Intervention Team was put together involving the following community partners:
- Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Dispatch and Jail Medical Units
- National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
- Intermountain Hospital
- St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center
- Idaho Dept. of Health & Welfare, Adults Protection and Mobile Crisis Units
- Veteran’s Administration
- Altogether Now Counseling Services
- Lisa Johnson Counseling Service
“We’re very happy to help the police department with this program. Hopefully, it will cut down on the number of officers being hurt, or people diagnosed with mental illness being hurt, unless it’s an absolute last resort,” said Harless McMikle, a member of the Boise Chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). NAMI provided much of the training for the Boise Police CIT.
Mr. McMikle is also a retired Idaho State Trooper and understands the challenges faced by law officers trying to deal with people in crisis.
“This training won't make the officers experts in mental illness,” said Mr. McMikle. “But they will be able to better recognize situations involving someone in crisis. Once they recognize that, these officers now have more tools to help them try and resolve the situation safely.”
WHAT IS A CRISIS INTERVENTION TEAM?
A “team” of officers spread throughout the department, covering different shifts, specially trained to recognize and diffuse tense situations involving people with mental illness.
The CIT concept is a partnership between police, hospitals, mental health professionals, caregivers, families, and the courts.
The team also involves the creation of a voluntary registry that will provide police with information on an individual’s mental health status, including a list of caregivers, to assist Boise Police in calming and resolving tense situations.
The creation of a Boise CIT was recommended by the Boise Community Ombudsman, Pierce Murphy, and supported by Boise Chief of Police Michael Masterson.
“I’m thrilled that this proven approach to dealing with situations of crisis has come to Boise,” said Mr. Murphy. “It increases the probability that a person in crisis will get the help they need, rather than the situation escalating into a confrontation with tragic results.
"These officers, who now have this additional, intensive training, will be a great resource to the entire department.” said Lt. Winegar.
“The CIT concept is not one of those things where a large team of people will swoop in and handle the call. Instead, team members are assigned to different shifts, different days and all hours. Our goal is to have at least one or two team members working at any given time to be a resource to everyone who responds to the call.” said Lt. Winegar.
WHO IS ON THE TEAM?
- Approx. 15 members from the Boise Police Department, including Patrol Officers, School Resource Officers, and Special Victims (domestic violence and child abuse) detectives.
- These officers have just completed an intensive 40 hour training program taught by community partners including physicians, caregivers, and police. Families and individuals dealing with mental illness have also made presentations and interacted with to the class.
- All Boise Police Patrol Officers have received an overview of the CIT program.
WHY HAVE A CRISIS INTERVENTION TEAM?
The concept of a Crisis Intervention Team began as a collaboration between police and the community in Memphis, Tennessee in 1988. That community had a tragic shooting involving police and a mentally ill man who was threatening officers.
“The time is right for this in our community. I know the whole community will benefit, especially those in the community with mental illness and their families. This should give them hope,” said Mr. Murphy.
Boise Police have been researching, designing, and now training and implementing a Crisis Intervention Team for the past two years.
"These officers, who now have this additional, intensive training, will be a great resource to the entire department. Team members are assigned to different shifts, and they'll be available to respond to tense situations involving police and individuals showing signs of mental illness" said Lt. Winegar.