The Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) model was developed in 1988 in Memphis, Tennessee as a partnership between the police department, advocacy groups for people with mental illness, mental health treatment providers, local universities, and other community stakeholders. The goals of CIT were to train law enforcement officers in the recognition of mental illness, to enhance their verbal crisis de-escalation skills, and to provide more streamlined access to community-based mental health services. The Memphis community soon realized the benefits of this advanced course of training through dramatic declines in injury rates among both citizens and police officers, decreased utilization of the SWAT team to resolve crisis situations and – when safe and appropriate – the diversion of people with mental illness from incarceration to community-based mental health services.
When the CIT model was replicated in other large urban areas across the western United States, including Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; San Jose, California; and Albuquerque, New Mexico; those communities experienced similar positive outcomes.
The CIT model has since spread to many areas of the United States. In 2002, the Colorado Regional Community Policing Institute (CRCPI), a branch of the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, launched the state's first CIT trainings in Jefferson County and Denver. When CRCPI was disbanded in 2008, CITAC was given the responsibility of supporting the standardization of CIT training in Colorado.
During the first 10 years of CIT training in Colorado, over 7,000 Colorado peace officers – fully half of the certified peace officers statewide – completed CIT training.
In some regions, community mental health centers are working in tandem with their CIT officers by providing case management services for people with mental illness who are contacted by law enforcement as a consequence of their illness. By engaging mental health consumers with appropriate community support, both the well-being of the individual and the safety of the community can be enhanced.