Preparing police and first responders to help individuals in mental health crisis.
BHECN joins Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training at Boys Town
On December 6, 2012, BHECN and the UNMC Department of Psychiatry participated in the 2nd annual Crisis Intervention Training (CIT)-Youth program for law enforcement officers from Nebraska, South Dakota, and western Iowa.
Hosted at the Boys Town Skip Palrang Memorial Field House and based on a national model created in Memphis, the Omaha CIT training expanded to youth in 2011 in response to the demand from law enforcement officers for additional training in child mental health.
The group included 29 law enforcement officers who participated in a series of interactive behavioral health experiences to prepare them for field work. The day started with a panel of family members with children who have struggled with mental illness, offering wisdom from parental experience to the officers.
The workshops continued with a discussion of tools and de-escalation techniques from John Lehnhoff, Ph.D., from Alegent Creighton Health, and Andrea Joyce, LMHP, from Lutheran Family Services.
Howard Liu, UNMC child psychiatrist and BHECN medical director, and Brenda McIlnay, UNMC social worker and child therapist, then led a series of interactive case scenarios on how to triage and manage children dealing with destructive behaviors such as shoplifting, cutting and physical aggression.
Participants reviewed community resources throughout Nebraska for children and families in crisis, including:
- Nebraska Family Helpline
- Region 6 Mobile Crisis Teams for law enforcement assistance
- Region 6 Warm Line, staffed by peer specialists
Steve Spelic, Government Affairs & Outreach Strategist at Alegent Health, organized the event in conjunction with Officer Leigh Culver from the Omaha Police Department. Spelic was recognized as the 2012 CIT Coordinator of the Year from the national CIT body of trainers.
Crisis Intervention Team Program
- The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is a cooperative community partnership with law enforcement, mental health consumers and family members and mental health providers.
- The CIT program is designed to educate and prepare police officers that come into contact with people with mental illnesses to recognize the signs and symptoms of these illnesses, and to respond effectively and appropriately to people who are experiencing a psychiatric crisis.
- Because police officers are often the first responders in these incidents, it is essential that they know how critical periods of mental illness alter behaviors and perceptions, can assess what is needed in the moment, and can bring understanding and compassion to bear when they are handling these difficult situations.
- CIT training provides officers with the skills to make a safer intervention for themselves, for the consumer in a crisis, for the consumer’s family and for the community.
- CIT training is a forty-hour course that is completed in a one-week session. Instructors include Law Enforcement personnel, physicians, psychologist, licensed social workers, and consumers of mental health.
- CIT students receive training in:
- Introduction to clinical disorders (practical facts about depression, practical facts about schizophrenia, practical facts about bipolar disorder)
- Psychotropic medications
- Co-occurring disorders
- Legal issues
- Suicide prevention
- Elderly and Children’s behavioral issues
- Consumer perspectives
- Intervention strategies
- Community Resources
- Program benefits
- Crisis response is immediate
- Arrests and use of force decreased
- Underserved consumers are identified by officers and provided with care
- Patient violence and use of restraints in the ED decreased
- Officers are better trained and educated in verbal de-escalation techniques
- Officer’s injuries during crisis events decline
- Officer recognition and appreciation by the community increases
- Less “victimless” crime arrests
- Decreased liability for health care issues in the jail
- Cost savings