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Celebrating Ten Years of the Lilly Reintegration Awards - Where Are They Now?

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) – Houston Police Department, Houston, Texas

2000 Lilly Reintegration Award, Advocacy

 

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) of the Police Department in Houston, Texas, is a voluntary team of patrol officers who receive 40 hours of training in mental health issues and communications techniques.  The officers are dispatched to calls involving people in crisis, many of whom have a mental illness.  The CIT was formed when it was recognized that police officers, who are often the first responders in crisis situations involving mentally ill individuals, did not have sufficient knowledge or experience to deal effectively with this group.  While a majority of mentally ill individuals are not dangerous, the police are often called in to deal with crisis situations involving this population, including the small percentage who present a danger to themselves or others. 

 

In 2000, the program was given a second place Lilly Reintegration Award for Advocacy.  CIT Coordinator, Officer Frank Webb (pictured above), commented on the win:

“It was a tremendous honor for us.  At the time we won, the program was new – we were the first police department in Texas to initiate a program of this kind - so winning this award gave the program additional credibility and confirmed that we were on the right track, so to speak.”

 

Since winning the Award, the program saw two significant developments – the first was that basic crisis intervention training for all new recruits was increased from 6 hours to 24 hours.  The second significant development was the passage of a state law on September 1, 2005, that mandated 16 hours of basic CIT training for all police officers across the state – not just new recruits.  These two developments were a direct result of the success of the initial CIT program.

 

While the program has already grown in significant ways, Officer Webb has even greater visions for the future.  “We would really like to see this program implemented on a more widespread basis across the state of Texas,” he said.    “The two significant developments regarding the expanded training for new recruits and veteran police officers – that is just basic CIT training, not a full-fledged CIT program.  What we would like to see are more CIT programs like ours.  Our program is more advanced – it’s 40 hours of training.” 

 

Officer Webb would also like to take the program to states outside of Texas.  So far, he has personally conducted four training sessions - three in Alabama and one in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, but it is his dream to see this valuable program expand on a truly national level.

 

To read more about the Houston PD’s CIT program, visit, http://www.houstontx.gov/police/cit.htm

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