Appleton Police Department Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)
Brain disease or chemical imbalances of the brain, sometimes referred to as mental illness, are the number one disability in America. Mental illness affects one in four families across America. Given that fact, it comes as no surprise that 60% of most mental health consumers, people who live daily with a brain disorder, report having contacts with law enforcement.
It is commonly the policy of the Appleton Police Department that persons displaying signs and or symptoms of mental illness or severe emotional distress shall be afforded dignified treatment. The safety of the consumer, the officer or the public will not be compromised in this effort.
Today, law enforcement’s most efficient tool at achieving this mission is through the use of the “Memphis Model” of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) approach. The Appleton Police Department began implementation of CIT in June 2004. The CIT approach is a community effort enjoining both the police and the community together for common goals of safety, understanding and service to the mentally ill and their families. CIT is recognized by Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, the International Association Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs Association, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and other organizations as a “Best Practice” for crisis intervention.
In Appleton, the anchor agency behind the CIT Initiative is NAMI Fox Valley, an affiliate of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org). This partnership has been critical in developing a more intelligent understanding and safe approach to mental crisis incidents.
CIT officers are patrol officers who volunteer to receive special training in working with persons with mental illness. In addition to handling their regular patrol duties, these officers are called upon to respond to crisis calls that place officers face to face with complex issues relating to mental illness. The specialized training the CIT officers receive is under the instructional supervision of mental health experts and providers, family advocates, consumer groups and experienced APD CIT officers. Because of the training, CIT officers can, with confidence, offer a more humane and calm approach to the crisis resolution.
But CIT is more than just training. CIT is also about doing the right thing for the right reasons. CIT recognizes a special population that deserves special care, treatment and service. CIT officers help identify persons in need of community services, assists at getting them connected to those resources and works at helping to keep them connected. These CIT officers play a key role in reducing the likelihood of physical confrontations and enhance the opportunity for better mental health care.
There are many benefits to the CIT Initiative:
Reduction in the costs of overall services through better utilization of said services and diversion to less costly service
- Reduced risk of injuries to consumers, public and officers
- Reduction in repeat contacts with mental health consumers
- Reduction of criminalization of those persons with mental illness that come in contact with the criminal justice system
- Enhanced working relationships with mental health care providers in the community
- Increased involvement of the families and friends of the mental health consumers
- Reduction in civil commitments through diversion to safe & less restrictive settings
By bringing CIT to Appleton, the CIT officers will be giving mental health consumers a greater sense of dignity. This dignity generates a new respect and outlook on both law enforcement and the mental health care system. This in turn will offer the consumers and their families something that most can always use a little bit more of, Hope.
Some of the accomplishments the CIT Initiative are detailed below:
NAMI Fox Valley, in conjunction with mental health care professionals from throughout Wisconsin, as well as select APD CIT officers, holds two 40-hour CIT training sessions each year. The seventeen sessions held thus far have graduated more than 400 officers from across the State. The initiative to bring CIT to Wisconsin did not go unnoticed. NAMI Wisconsin, located in Madison, recognized the Appleton Police Department in 2005 with an Educators Award, which was presented at the 2005 State NAMI Conference. In addition, the Governor’s Office recognized Michael Woody, a retired Lieutenant from the Akron Ohio Police Department, for his help in bringing CIT to Wisconsin. In 2010 NAMI Wisconsin once again recognized APD by awarding the “Protect and Serve” Award to the department.
The CIT Initiative has expanded in Wisconsin beyond Appleton. In January 2006, the Milwaukee Police Department held its first ever CIT training session. Two of the key people facilitating CIT at Milwaukee PD are graduates of the Appleton CIT training. The Milwaukee Police Department’s goal is to achieve a level of 25% of patrol officers trained. The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department also started CIT training in 2006. They have hosted several sessions graduating more than 200 officers from the suburban metro Milwaukee area. That “suburban training” began shifting to NAMI Waukesha in December 2010 and they have held five trainings thus far in conjunction with the Waukesha Sheriff’s Department.
LaCrosse held its first ever CIT training Session in October 2006 graduating 19 CIT officers from the area. Four of the people involved in organizing CIT training for the LaCrosse area are graduates of the CIT training sessions in Appleton. Since 2006 LaCrosse has trained more than 75 officers in CIT. Racine has held six “Memphis Model” trainings since their first session in 2009. So far they have graduated more than 75 officers & deputies from across the county. In addition, Kenosha has hosted three CIT sessions graduating nearly 75 officers and deputies from across the county.
Crisis Intervention Partner (CIP) is also being offered at Appleton, Racine, Kenosha and Waukesha locations. CIP is modeled after the training started by Milwaukee NAMI for hospital staff. It is designed for the other peripheral personnel that assist the Police as first responders. This would include but not be limited to corrections, dispatchers, EMS, teachers, ER staff, company nurses, library staff, bus drivers, just to name a few.
For more information about CIT / CIP contact Sgt. John Wallschlaeger
or a representative from NAMI Fox Valley at 920-954-1550.