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Mental Health Issues in our Community

Police have become frontline professionals who manage persons with mental health issues when they are in crisis. The principles that provide rationale for the police to take this responsibility for persons with mental illness appear to be their power and authority to protect the safety and welfare of the community, and their parens patriae obligations to protect individuals with disabilities. In addition, police officers often fulfill the role of gatekeeper in deciding whether a person with mental illness who has come to their attention should enter the mental health system or the criminal justice system, potentially leading to the criminalization of mental illness. The traditional role of police officer has now been expanded due to societal needs. Police officers must now have training in recognizing mental illness and knowing how to access mental health resources.

The need for collaboration between the law enforcement and mental health systems is crucial. These are very different areas of expertise of each should be recognized and should not be confused. Police officers should not be expected to negotiate this prevailing problem without support. 

 Programs have been developed throughout the Country to confront this growing problem. One program that has been identified as having positive results comes out of The University of Memphis School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice CIT Center. It has come to be known as The Memphis Model.  Below is a brief abstact of this project.


(© 2006. For use in assisting CIT programs. Obtain permission from first author for large-scale re-printing. Contact CIT Center at [email protected] or (901) 678-5523.):

Crisis Intervention Team Core Elements 

The University of Memphis School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy 

Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice CIT Center

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is an innovative first-responder model of police-based crisis intervention with community, health care, and advocacy partnerships. The CIT Model was first developed in Memphis and has spread throughout the country. It is known as the “Memphis Model.” CIT provides law enforcement-based crisis intervention training for assisting those individuals with a mental illness, and improves the safety of patrol officers, consumers, family members, and citizens within the community. CIT is a program that provides the foundation necessary to promote community and statewide solutions to assist individuals with a mental illness. The CIT Model reduces both stigma and the need for further involvement with the criminal justice system. CIT provides a forum for effective problem solving regarding the interaction between the criminal justice and mental health care system and creates the context for sustainable change. Basic Goals: Improve Officer and Consumer Safety Redirect Individuals with Mental Illness from the Judicial System to the Health Care System In order for a CIT program to be successful, several critical core elements should be present. These elements are central to the success of the program’s goals. The following outlines these core elements and details the necessary components underlying each element.


This problem is already costing our community greatly. Resources will need to be directed towards the creation of any program. The source of these funds should not be the budget of the SJPD. This is a very costly problem for the City already, and we must confront and properly approach rational solutions and preventative measures. The job description of a Police Officer is already broad and demanding. We must confront this issue systemically. We can do this. We have the Best and Brightest minds in OUR City!