Academic Training to Inform Police Responses

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Academic Training to Inform Police Responses

A National Curriculum to Enhance Police Engagement with People with Behavioral Health Issues and Developmental Disabilities

Project Description

For law enforcement officers, responding to situations involving individuals with behavioral health issues or developmental disabilities in a safe, effective manner can often present a significant challenge. 

This Academic Training to Enhance Police Engagement with People with Behavioral Health Issues and Developmental Disabilities is designed to enhance, implement, and evaluate crisis intervention team and disability response training for law enforcement and first responders that is academically based and transdisciplinary. Collectively, this project aims to increase access to training, technical assistance, and companion tools and resources to facilitate the adoption and implementation of multilayered approaches in police response for persons with behavioral health issues or developmental disabilities, including co-responder models, mobile crisis teams, and developmental disability specific approaches.  

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Project Design and Implementation

In order to improve police response to people with behavioral health issues or developmental disabilities, our team will:

  • Develop & implement a National Curriculum to inform police responses to people with behavioral health issues and intellectual and developmental disabilities 
  • Develop technology solutions such as e-learning training materials
  • Develop best practice guides in police response to persons with behavioral health issues or developmental disabilities
  • Evaluate curriculum development and deliver training and technical assistance 
  • Enhance existing resources and develop new products 

Crisis Response and Intervention Training (CRIT)

The Crisis Response and Intervention Training (CRIT) is a 40-hour training program developed to prepare police officers in their response to people experiencing crises related to behavioral health (BH) disorders and/or intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). This training is based upon the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training and is designed to complement the development and delivery of crisis response programs planned by law enforcement agencies and mental health/disability service providers in the community.

This 40-hour training program includes 21 modules of varying lengths and learning styles. These modules focus on topical areas such as BH and IDD, community engagement and resources, systems and research considerations, and scenario-based skills. National subject matter experts in policing, BH, and IDD serve as the primary trainers of this program with assistance from local instructors to tailor training content to the agency and community context.

Following participation in the Crisis Response and Intervention Training (CRIT), officers will have a better understanding of the types of challenges that persons with BH disorders and/or IDD face, have knowledge of community resources that can aid in the diversion of individuals from the criminal justice system, and have skills to assist in the management of situations involving people experiencing BH and/or IDD-related crises.

The 40-hour training matrix can be found here

CRIT Pilot Site Selection Announcement

Three agencies have been selected to participate as pilot sites for the Crisis Response and Intervention Training in 2021. Congratulations to Corvallis (OR) Police Department, Pittsburgh (PA) Bureau of Police, and Rapid City (SD) Police Department!

These agencies will receive intensive technical assistance, training, and companion resources from a national pool of subject matter experts to adopt and operationalize a crisis response program. Agencies will engage in comprehensive strategic planning – including program design, implementation, and partnership-building – and training to promote effective and safer responses to persons experiencing a crisis, or at risk of experiencing a crisis, related to behavioral health conditions (including mental health and substance use) and/or intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Upcoming Events

Crisis Response for Rural Communities: Using Technology and Peer Support to Meet People in Crisis, Where They Are

Date: September 16, 2021, 12:30–2:00 p.m. ET

Rural communities can face many challenges developing and delivering crisis response programs for people with behavioral health conditions and intellectual and developmental disabilities, including wide geographic areas to serve, limitations in options for local treatment and social services, and resource constraints related to funding and staffing. Across the United States, rural communities have adapted best practices in crisis response to overcome these challenges and address the need for services in their jurisdictions by having mental health providers meet people in crisis where they are, either in-person or through telehealth services. These programs can prevent the need for additional resources, such as police and emergency medical services, to respond to individuals in crisis and may enhance short- and long-term outcomes for these individuals.

Presented by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance's Academic Training to Inform Police Responses Initiative, this webinar will feature two programs that have adapted crisis response for use in rural communities. Panelists will present the innovative approaches in crisis response implemented by their programs and discuss the challenges of ensuring the needs of individuals in crisis who live in rural communities are met. Additionally, the Academic Training project team will highlight key resources to support rural communities developing and implementing crisis response in their jurisdiction. Register today!

Taking the Call: A National Conference Exploring Innovative Community Responder Models

Wednesday, October 20–Thursday, October 21, 2021 12:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m. ET

Join the CSG Justice Center, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the University of Cincinnati for Taking The Call, a two-day national conference exploring innovative community responder models.

Communities across the U.S. are launching new responses to emergency calls that help reduce law enforcement contact and connect people in need to appropriate health services. These responses are redefining who answers calls for service involving mental health or substance use crises, homelessness, “quality-of-life” issues, and other low-level situations.

Taking the Call will bring people together from across the U.S. to explore how jurisdictions are serving as laboratories for innovation to ensure that emergency calls receive the appropriate response. The conference will highlight the opportunities and challenges of these community responder models and discuss how the approach may improve community health, lessen the burden on law enforcement, and reduce unnecessary justice system contact.

The virtual conference is free and open to the public; pre-registration is required. The event livestream will also be accessible at https://csgjusticecenter.org/taking-the-call/ and on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Viewers can join the conversation by following #JusticeBriefingLive.

Register Now!

Past Events

Law Enforcement Engagement with People with Behavioral Health Issues and Developmental Disabilities Stakeholder Roundtable

In August 2020, a multi-disciplinary group of individuals with subject matter expertise in police responses to people with behavioral health issues and/or developmental disabilities convened virtually to participate in the Law Enforcement Engagement with People with Behavioral Health Issues and Developmental Disabilities Stakeholder Roundtable. This roundtable was designed to inform the work of the Academic Training to Inform Police Responses by facilitating discussions related to:

  1. Opportunities to advance the safety and effectiveness of police engagement with people with behavioral health (BH) issues and/or developmental disabilities (DD);
  2. Best practices in current crisis response models and collaboration between police and service provider partners; and
  3. Existing and needed products and resources to support police agencies and their service provider partners in the delivery of effective responses.

The Stakeholder Roundtable hosted presentations on existing efforts in police responses to people with BH issues and/or DD. These presentations were designed to facilitate discussions of best practices in police and community responses, methods of police-mental health and police-disability collaboration, and potential barriers to effective responses to people with BH issues and/or DD. The presenters included:

Presenter Topic
Dr. Rebecca Neusteter
Director, University of Chicago Health Lab
Understanding Police Response through Examining 911 Call for Service Data
Ariel Simms, Esq.
Senior Program Manager & Attorney, The Arc of the United States
The Arc of the United States’ National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability Pathways to Justice® Initiative
Assistant Chief Kevin Hall
Tucson (AZ) Police Department
Tucson Police Department’s Mental Health Support Team (MHST)
Peggy Heil
Behavioral Health Specialist, Colorado Division of Criminal Justice
Integrated Dispatch and Crisis Service Response
Assistant Chief Wendy Baimbridge
Houston (TX) Police Department
Houston Police Department’s Mental Health Division
Tim Black
Director of Consulting, White Bird Clinic
Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS; Eugene, OR)
Chief Gina Hawkins
Fayetteville (NC) Police Department
Fayetteville Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)
Dr. Margie Balfour
Chief of Quality and Clinical Innovation, Connections Health Solutions Associate Professor of Psychiatry; University of Arizona
Southern Arizona’s Crisis Response Center and Crisis System

A full report of the Law Enforcement Engagement with People with Behavioral Health Issues and Developmental Disabilities Stakeholder Roundtable can be found here. This report provides:

  • An account of the planning and delivery of the Roundtable, including the processes for participant selection and activities across the two-day meeting;
  • A description of the major themes of the discussions, polls, and survey responses generated by the Stakeholder Roundtable participants; and
  • Recommendations for future efforts to facilitate collaborative responses to people with BH issues and/or DD within communities.

Transforming Dispatch and Crisis Response Services: Meeting Challenges with Innovation Webinar

Webinar Description:

Historically, law enforcement has been the default response to all 911 calls for service, including incidents involving individuals experiencing crises related to behavioral health disorders and/or intellectual and developmental disabilities. It has been observed that many of these incidents are service-based calls, where the presence of law enforcement may not be needed. In recent years, communities have increased efforts to reorganize their crisis response systems, training 911 call-takers and dispatchers to shift away from directing law enforcement as first responders to these calls. This webinar features four programs that have leveraged the training, policies, and procedures of 911 call-takers and dispatch when restructuring their community’s response to crisis incidents. Panelists present the innovative approaches in crisis response implemented by their programs and discuss the challenges of ensuring appropriate services are dispatched to crisis incidents to best meet the needs of individuals.

Presentations:

  1. Training of CIT Dispatch Trainers
    Ruth H. Simera, Med, LSW; Executive Director
    Coordinating Centers of Excellence, Northeast Ohio Medical University
     
  2. Colorado Justice Mental Health Collaboration Program: Dispatch / Crisis Services Collaboration
    Peggy Heil, LCSW; Behavioral Health Specialist
    Colorado Division of Criminal Justice
    Abigail S. Tucker, PsyD
    SHE Consulting, LLC
     
  3. Albuquerque Police Department’s IDD Training for Telecommunicators
    Ben Melendrez, Detective
    Albuquerque (NM) Police Department
     
  4. Transitioning 911 Response: San Francisco’s Street Crisis Response Team (SCRT) Pilot Program
    Robert Smuts, Deputy Director
    San Francisco Department of Emergency Management
    Simon Pang, Section Chief of Community Paramedicine
    San Francisco Fire Department
     

Bureau of Justice Assistance Logo

This project was supported by Grant No. 2020-NT-BX-K001 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Project Partners

Supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, this training initiative brings together experts in law enforcement, mental and behavioral health, curriculum development, and evaluation to raise awareness in the law enforcement community about the nature and needs of persons with behavioral health issues or developmental disabilities to facilitate the use of evidence-based and best practices in law enforcement response. More information on the Academic Training partner organizations can be found here.

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