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October 20, 2005

1.  Who we Are!
2.  850 People Attend First National CIT Conference.
3.  CIT in Rural Communities
4.  The People Have Spoken!
5.  Better Mental Health Treatment Rates As Top Priority Of
California  Criminal Justice Officials.
Salt Lake City Continues To Add CIT Officers.
7.  The Sheriff's Perspective.
8.  Does Jail Diversion Work?
9.  Helpful Websites.

1. Who We Are!

The NAMI Law and Criminal Justice Action Center is pleased to announce the first issue of CIT in Action.  This electronic newsletter will be published on a periodic basis and will feature news and information about police Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs as well as other information about jail diversion, community reentry and related decriminalization initiatives.  The NAMI CIT Technical Assistance Resource Center has been established to serve as a repository of information about CIT and related pre-booking diversion initiatives as well as a catalyst for the development of these programs across the country. 

NAMI welcomes Bonnie Sultan as Coordinator of the CIT Technical Assistance Resource Center. Bonnie will be the point person in the development of a clearinghouse resource on CIT and jail diversion at NAMI-National. 

Bonnie can be reached at the following address:

Bonnie Sultan
CIT Program Coordinator
Colonial Place Three
2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300

Arlington, VA 22201-3042
(703) 516-0698

2. 850 People Attend First National CIT Conference

In May, more than 800 people representing criminal justice, mental health and advocates from across the country came together in Columbus, Ohio to attend the first national conference on CIT.  The conference was a huge success, with presentations by representatives of CIT programs from virtually every region of the country.  The conference was organized by Justice Evelyn Stratton of the Supreme Court of Ohio in partnership with the Ohio Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence, NAMI-Ohio and the Capital University Law School A great deal of excitement was generated by the conference and many attendees resolved to go back to their communities and create their own CIT programs.  A detailed story about this conference written for the NAMI Advocate by Donald Turnbaugh of NAMI-Pinellas County (Florida) follows.

First National CIT Conference a Success

By Donald G. Turnbaugh, Board Member and Past President, NAMI Pinellas County, Florida

From Florida to Alaska, from Albuquerque to Chicago, more than 800 law enforcement officers, mental health providers, advocates, practitioners, professionals, government officials, and judges came to Columbus, Ohio, on May 11-12, 2005, for the First National Crisis Intervention Team

(CIT) Conference. Moms and dads in their seventies mixed with officers and deputies in their twenties. In its truest sense, these were the grassroots people actually involved in the design, development, and delivery of their local CIT programs.

Others may have shared the interest and inspiration of a national conference, but NAMI Ohio, Capital University Law School, the Supreme Court of the State of Ohio, and the Ohio Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence took the initiative. In Ohio, 180 police departments, sheriff's offices, and campus police are involved in CIT.

The conference attendees were made welcome by their Ohio hosts. Jim Petro, Ohio Attorney General, recognized the need for CIT to reduce the "hundreds of thousands" of people with mental illness in prisons.

Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Supreme Court of Ohio, spoke from personal knowledge of the current approaches to mental illness and the need for diversion programs.

Sam and Randy

At any conference featuring CIT, the stars of the show are Major Sam Cochran, CIT coordinator for the Memphis Police Department, and Randolph Dupont, Ph.D., of the University of Memphis, who is lead consultant to the Memphis Police Department's CIT program. Dr. Dupont spoke of the police as the "first responders" who provide that immediate response that reduces injuries, not only to officers, but also to consumers. His major observation was that CIT "changes attitudes" of all involved.

Major Cochran spoke of CIT as the "elephant" in the living room, a metaphor to which those who have promoted CIT in their community could relate. He went on to recognize the amount of planning and scheduling, along with determination and persistence, that is required to form the necessary partnerships to establish CIT.

NAMI National Board Attends

It was heartening to hear speaker after speaker praise NAMI and its members. And, the pleasure was doubled when NAMI National Board members addressed the family and consumer perspective on interaction with law enforcement during a crisis. Gloria Walker spoke from personal experience about the fear of the police some families and consumers had before CIT. Risdon Slate, Ph.D., told of his dreams and delusions that took him from probation officer to prisoner to patient to professor. Jim Dailey was doubly proud that his son is doing well and his daughter is a Louisville CIT officer. And once again, the incomparable Fred Frese brilliantly drew upon humor to humanize these horrible illnesses. Yet, he also conveyed an inspiring message: that others may go from patient to provider at the same facility.

Ron Honberg, NAMI director for policy and legal affairs, presented an overview of the preliminary results of the nationwide survey documenting the involvement of NAMI in CIT. NAMI wants officers to be prepared, trained, knowledgeable in de-escalation techniques, and allowed options.

Identifying the Core Elements

The Memphis Model CIT Program, the standard-bearer for the life-saving, award-winning CIT program for 17 years, set the stage. To ensure fidelity across a nationwide program, work has begun on national core elements and a standardized curriculum. Elements include training, community partnerships, a single point of entry, selected volunteer officers, repetitive responses, and some flexibility. The many versions of "CIT" have drawn the interest and involvement of the Police Executive Research Forum, the Consensus Project, the TAPA Center for Jail Diversion, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the President's New Freedom Commission.

So Many Workshops, So Little Time

The 33 conference workshops were directed to both those starting CIT programs and those improving an existing CIT program. Throughout the conference, the choice of topics and speakers set a high standard of excellence. More than 200 people attended the workshop, "Suicide by Cop."

Award Ceremonies

Recognition at the awards dinner went to the following: Lt. Christopher Bowling, Columbus Police, Ohio CIT Officer of the Year; Major Sam Cochran, National CIT Coordinator of the Year Award; and Officer Terry Golden, West Palm Beach (Florida) Police Department, National CIT Officer of the Year. (Golden is an eight-year veteran officer who was once told he wasn't "right" for police work and should think about becoming a social worker!)

Most departments have some identifying pin worn on the uniform, indicating that an officer is "CIT-trained." The "Best-Looking CIT Pin" winner was Piscataquis County, Maine, where every officer in the county is CIT trained - all 16 of them!


Much was learned from the speakers, in workshops, and in informal discussions. People still become police officers to help others, and CIT allows them to fulfill this goal. Experienced patrol officers recognize mental illness as a potential problem they deal with every day, and they see CIT as part of the solution. Some officers may not desire CIT training or be suited for CIT, two reasons why selected volunteers perform best. Psychiatrists and attorneys practice to become better at what they do. For CIT officers, responding to calls of persons in crisis makes them better, too.

Finally, family members have the most to gain from CIT. It is our loved ones who benefit when officers attend the 40-hour training. Family members can accomplish the same by attending the NAMI Family-To-Family Education Program - "a CIT course for families."

Source: NAMI Advocate, Summer 2005

3. CIT in Rural Communities

Among the many groups attending the Columbus CIT conference were members of the Piscataquis Regional CIT team of Maine Based in a rural setting, this program was established through a partnership between local law enforcement and the Charlotte White Center, a nonprofit agency working to assist both people with physical and mental disabilities.

Funding was made available through a grant of $23,000 from the Maine Justice Assistance Council. Their work shows us that CIT can work in all communities! For more information, see the Bangor Daily News, March 14, 2005 issue, p. B1.

4. The People Have Spoken!

Residents of the Roanoke Valley, Virginia, ranked proper access to mental health care as a top priority. Roanoke and new River Valley police departments, in partnership with local mental health agencies, are now offering CIT training to better equip law enforcement officers to more effectively respond to people with mental illnesses and provide alternatives to arrest and incarceration (The Roanoke Times, 2, May 1, 2005).

5. Better Mental Health Treatment Rated as a Top Priority by California Criminal Justice Officials

A poll conducted by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids of California found that law enforcement officers, probation chiefs, and district attorneys identified mental health services as a significant priority for young adults in juvenile justice and adult correctional facilities. The majority of respondents believe mental health programs are more effective in the reduction of crime than other law enforcement methods such as prosecuting a minor as an adult. Proposition 63, a ballot initiative adopted by California voters in 2004, imposes a 1 percent tax on citizens with taxable incomes of $1 million or higher to raise funds for California mental health programs.  This tax, which is expected to raise an estimated $700 million, may be used for jail diversioninitiatives.   (

6. Salt Lake City Continues to Add CIT Officers

A recent article in the Deseret Morning News reported that more than two dozen new officers have received CIT training, adding to an already large group of designated CIT officers in that city. The Salt Lake City Police department reports that in 2004, they received more than 1,000 CIT calls involving citizens with mental illness. Former NAMI-Utah Executive Director Vicki Cotrelle, who was killed recently in a tragic auto accident, was very instrumental in bringing CIT to Utah. (Deseret Morning News, April 24, 2005).

7. The Sheriff's Perspective

Thomas N. Faust, Executive Director of the National Sheriff's Association discusses the intersection between the criminal justice and mental health fields in an editorial titled Shift the Responsibility of Untreated Mental Illness Out of the Criminal Justice System (Corrections Today, April 2003, 6-7). Mr. Faust expresses the NSA's support of more funding and community resources for people with mental illness, as individuals with these disorders are becoming more and more prevalent in the US correctional system. Mr. Faust uses statistical findings to illustrate the difficulties encountered by law enforcement in responding to people with severe mental illnesses who are in crisis. He cites the need for more training for law enforcement personnel to better respond to these situations.  He also encourages policies and programs to divert offenders with mental illnesses from incarceration into treatment whenever possible.

8. Does Jail Diversion Work?

In these times of budget deficits, advocates trying to promote jail diversion in their communities must effectively make the case that these programs are successful in (a) reducing crime and (b) saving costs.

Since most jail diversion programs are quite new, there is relatively little data available to make this case.  However, several studies are noteworthy.

For example, Steadman and Naples (2005) examine differences in outcomes achieved by individuals with co-occurring mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders depending upon their participation in a jail diversion program. They found differences between these groups in term of decreased arrests and more time spent in the community for people participating in jail diversion programs. This indicates fewer days of incarceration or hospitalization for these people.

(Steadman, Henry J., Naples, Michelle. 2005. Assessing the Effectiveness of Jail Diversion Programs for Persons with Serious Mental Illness and Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders), Behavioral Sciences and the Law.23: 163-170.

These research findings are consistent with data reported by two exemplary jail diversion programs, Thresholds in Chicago and Project Link in Rochester, NY Thresholds demonstrated significant reductions in jail and hospital costs associated with participation in jail diversion programs (average reductions of $18,873 per participant).

Project Link demonstrated even more dramatic reductions in costs ($39, 518 per participant).  Click here to view the Thresholds and Project Link data.

9. Helpful Websites

U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance
Administer federal mental health courts program, provide resources and information for jail diversion, publications and reports, information about federal funding sources.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Administer federal jail diversion grant program, resource information, publications, and other helpful information about criminal justice and mental health.

Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)
Information about criminal justice and mental health, community policing, and other relevant information.

Your Feedback and Information is Needed!

We are interested in your reactions to this electronic newsletter and how we might improve it.  We are also eager to hear from you about news or stories we can include for future issues of CIT in Action.  Please send your comments or ideas to Bonnie Sultan,, or Ron Honberg,   Thanks!

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