In 1988 the Memphis, Tennessee police department responded to the needs of the community by joining in partnership with community organizations, consumers and families in a collaborative effort to train officers about the specifics of behavioral health. These officers became a part of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). Officers who have this training are specifically called to a scene when someone in a behavioral health crisis is identified. The goals are to divert these individuals into treatment rather than incarceration, and to reduce injury to either the individuals or the officers.
The "Memphis Model" it's called, is being adopted by police departments across the country. Philadelphia has adapted this model to meet the specific needs of its community. The CIT training is led by the Department of Behavioral Health and the Philadelphia Police Department. The Family Resource Network (FRN) has been involved in the training of approximately 2,400 police officers. As part of the "Family Perspective" presentation, FRN Coordinator Kathleen Cantwell, and Northeast NAMI Affiliate leaders Frank Eichhorn and Judy Long, talk about their personal experiences, provide feed back on how families feel when officers arrive in response to calls for help, and the importance of officers caring for their own health. Officers are educated about how the stigma of mental illness impacts the family emotionally, financially, and physically. Officers are provided copies of the Family Resource Network Brochure which lists all the FRN members. Finally, officers are asked to refer families or encourage families to call or come to a support group. As in the Memphis Model, the goals for positive outcomes of the Crisis Intervention Team Trainings are being achieved as well as surpassed. CIT officers are being viewed from a more professional perspective, several suicide attempts have been stopped, families feel more comfortable and safe, families are appreciative that whenever possible, their loved one is sent for treatment rather than incarceration, and there has been a reduction of injuries to both officers and those in need of treatment.