What is Crisis Intervention Teams of RI?

A community crisis response rooted in compassion.

The Crisis Intervention Teams of RI (CIT-RI) is a community partnership that includes members of law enforcement, mental health and substance use disorder professionals, people who live with mental illness and/or substance use disorder, their families, and other people dedicated to improving the community responses to mental health crises.

Rhode Island is the 47th state to implement CIT programming.

In 1988, the city of Memphis introduced the first Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) as a result of community outcries from local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) members following a fatal police encounter with someone experiencing a mental health crisis.  Advocates worked with local leadership design a response to mental health crisis calls that recognized that respect and dignity are necessary components to recovery. CIT now spans across 47 states, and is recognized nationally as an evidence-based model improved crisis response.

“[CIT] is the future of law enforcement”

- Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island

In 2019, Thundermist Health Center of South County was leading behavioral health action planning on behalf of “Healthy Body, Healthy Minds”, the Washington County Health Equity Zone (HEZ). In response to provider shortages, high emergency department utilization, and high depression and suicide rates, community partners identified CIT as a possible way to improve outcomes for people utilizing crisis services. Police departments from Narragansett, South Kingstown, Westerly, and Richmond sponsored the first CIT training academy in October 2019, and became the founding members of the Washington County CIT steering committee. Since then, CIT programming has expanded to be offered statewide, and has received support from local, state, and federal delegations.

People living with mental illness deserve treatment, not jail.

CIT focuses on diversion strategies, ensuring that behavior associated with ones mental illness is not criminalized. When folks with mental health issues and SUD have access to quality care and treatment, a community thrives.

CIT-RI programs focus on policies and protocols to improve the crisis response system, advocate for needed services, and strengthen community partnerships.

CIT-RI is “more than a training”. It includes inclusive collaboration, training, policy development, and robust program evaluation.

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