Chief David Scott is pleased to announce that the Community Outreach Initiative Network (COIN) hosted a workshop to support the development of a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) to assist those suffering from mental health and substance use disorders.
On Tuesday, Dec. 17, COIN hosted approximately 40 representatives from the public safety and public health sectors at the Groton Inn to discuss creating a regional CIT program that can serve as a direct resource for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues. This week’s “system mapping” exercise was designed to create a regional outline of how law enforcement and public health systems identify and respond to individuals in crisis.
CIT programs are community-based partnerships that incorporate law enforcement, mental health professionals and consumer and advocacy groups whose combined expertise can provide those in need with lifesaving recovery and rehabilitation resources. The programs also serve as an opportunity to reform the crisis response framework, limiting the amount of times that law enforcement are responding first to those battling acute mental health crises.
The CIT framework also aims to greatly reduce the number of arrests or other adverse interactions between police and individuals with mental illness, instead referring them to treatment or other support services.
“While specialized police training — like mental health first aid — is a core element of CIT programs,” Chief Scott said, “the biggest factor in making them an effective positive force is the community collaboration among all of the stakeholders who can support those struggling with mental illness or substance use disorders.”
Tuesday’s system mapping exercise helped to identify existing resources as well as areas of opportunity prior to the implementation of CIT training — a week-long course for select police officers focused on recognizing and responding to mental illness and related disorders.
The 10 departments that comprise COIN received technical assistance to develop a CIT program through the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC), a program of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. COIN is a joint effort by police departments in Ashby, Ayer, Boxborough, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend, and Westford.