The First and Foundational Program of Houston’s Multi-Faceted Strategy for Responding to Individuals in Serious Mental Health Crisis
Houston started its Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) Program in 1999 as a pilot in the Central Patrol Division. After a successful six-month pilot, Chief of Police C. O. “Brad” Bradford ordered the program implemented in all patrol divisions. Department-wide implementation started in March 2000. By June of that year, 213 patrol officers had received the 40-hour CIT class. By January 2001, approximately 700 officers had received CIT training. As of January 2016, Houston has a total of 2,654 CIT officers.
A Hybrid Program
Houston started its CIT program based on the Memphis model of training veteran volunteer officers and training 25 percent of the patrol force. Houston had an availability problem with having only 25 percent of its patrol force trained. The majority of CIT calls were not being responded to by CIT officers because CIT officers were not available. To address this problem, and because Houston believes CIT training is beneficial to all officers and the skills can be utilized in many different calls – not just calls involving a person in mental heatlh crisis – Houston started providing crisis intervention training to all cadets in March 2007. The cadets graduate as CIT officers. The program is voluntary for veteran officers. In the future, all Houston Police Department officers will be CIT officers.
Crisis Intervention Training vs. Crisis Intervention Team
Houston started referring to its program as the Crisis Intervention Training Program in 2013 because some citizens in the community expected a “team” of officers to respond to a situation involving a person in mental health crisis. To clarify and avoid that misconception, “Team” was replaced with “Training.”