In many communities, a lack of mental health crisis services has resulted in an increased role for law enforcement as first responders. Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs are designed to improve police response to mental health crises, help individuals with mental health and substance use conditions access behavioral health services rather than enter the criminal justice system, and promote safety for the individual and police officer.

Developed in 1988, CIT programs are widely implemented across the country. They are designed to promote collaboration among law enforcement, mental health and substance use professionals, advocates, and people with lived experience and their families. Key components of CIT programs include accessible crisis systems, 40-hour training curriculum for law enforcement and other first responders, behavioral health staff training, and direct participation by people with lived experience.

CIT International establishes recommended standards for CIT programs across the country.

Massachusetts Crisis Intervention Teams

The MA Department of Mental Health (DMH) has provided grant funding for local police-based jail diversion programs, including CIT programs, since 2007. DMH recommends that police departments provide CIT training to at least 20% of their patrol and command personnel and that the training is voluntary. DMH also recommends that CIT-trained personnel be available on each shift. Since 2014, DMH supports a CIT Training & Technical Assistance Center to support hubs for CIT development across a region.

Learn more about MAMH's criminal justice reform work

Criminal Justice Reform