The Crisis Intervention Team (C.I.T.) concept and development was the fruit of what most developments in law enforcement are – the answer to something which went terribly wrong. It was 1987 in Memphis, Tenn., when a mentally ill man was involved in a shootout with police and ended up being fatally shot. Though the situation was handled by the letter of the law, there was public outcry over the situation with claims the police didn’t know how to properly handle the situation. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) collaborated with the Memphis Police Department, the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee in the development of a program which would provide special training to law enforcement officers, better preparing them to respond to persons experiencing a mental crisis. In 1988, the first Crisis Intervention Team was developed, and would serve the nation as the leading model for this incredible concept and program, now known across the nation as the “Memphis Model“.
In 2004 Officers Patrick O’Bryan (Paddy O) and Steven Johns of the Reno Police Department introduced and forged into operation, the Northern Nevada Regional Crisis Intervention Team – serving the law enforcement and emergency medical services not only in the Reno/Sparks community, but throughout Northern Nevada. This effort was partnered by the Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Service, and like the original Memphis C.I.T. Program, receives incredible support from NAMI – Northern Nevada and enjoys the enthusiastic and unyielding support from many local services and champions of assisting those in need.
The Northern Nevada Regional Crisis Intervention Team starts with a 40-hour comprehensive training program that not only provides the emergency responders with a better understanding of mental illness, mental disorders, intellectual disabilities and other psychiatric conditions which often bring about situations of crisis and distress, it also involves a thorough face-to-face introduction of resources and services available throughout the community through on-site orientation visits. Additionally, they participate in face-to-face interactions with consumers and family members of those experiencing mental distress, wherein the officers and paramedics have the opportunity to hear about how things feel on the other side of the badge. This gives those providing emergency assistance a much better perspective of “the bigger picture”. More often than not, a great deal of crisis and distress occurs BEFORE emergency services (Police, Paramedics, etc) become involved, and when emergency responders have a better understanding of what is going on in the big picture, and a better understanding of the many mental disorders and other conditions involved, the better they can assist. This all equates to SAFETY through UNDERSTANDING.
It doesn’t stop at the 40-hour training program. C.I.T. operatives are equipped with the knowledge of critical resources, and are familiarized in those resources first-hand. The C.I.T. operative knows not only what is available, but who to contact and how to get those who need help TO the various points of service. After the initial 40-hour course, C.I.T. operatives maintain open communications and ongoing relationships with the support services and service providers. A few of the site visits conducted during the C.I.T. course are ReStart-Reno, WestCare-Reno, HAWC Outreach Center, Homeless Shelters for Men, Women and Families, Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services (NNAMHS), the Sierra Regional Center and Lake’s Crossing.
While this all may seem obvious with regard to elements of the repertoire needed in the endless task of serving the community, it is virtually impossible for emergency responders to truly serve the needs of those in a psychiatric crisis without walking the walk and engaging directly with the consumers and service providers. C.I.T. offers the ability to go deep into this subject in a calmer, non-emergent setting and take in the critical information needed to truly serve the community. With C.I.T., everybody wins because the knowledge and experience gained by C.I.T. operatives creates safer and more helpful outcomes. Those who need help are much more likely to get help as opposed to being incarcerated or misunderstood at the scene, resulting in potentially disastrous endings.
Today’s Northern Nevada law enforcement and emergency medical service C.I.T. operatives receive classroom training at the Regional Public Safety Training Center in Reno, NV and conduct on-site visits to the various resources and service sites throughout the Reno/Sparks community. Information/addresses on most of these services are or will be available on this website, and where applicable, links to the websites of such services and facilities are provided within the context of the description/addresses.
All successful law enforcement programs grow and develop as the needs of the community change – C.I.T. is no exception. In 2009 the Northern Nevada C.I.T. program welcomed the addition of two critical modules: PTSD and TBI (both mentioned below with links to more information), and looks to expand upon those elements in coming months.
In May, 2010, after six successful years of C.I.T., the next step for Reno P.D. and Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services was to launch the voice of C.I.T. into the community by initiating the long-awaited Mobile Outreach Safety Team (M.O.S.T.), currently consisting of Officer Warren (Reno PD), Officer Kimball (Sparks PD), Deputy Player (Washoe County Sheriff’s Office) and Deputy Marsten (Washoe County Sheriff’s Office), alongside professionals from the Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Service Rangal Yorks, Christy Butler and Ashley Oliden. This enables the greater Washoe County area a cruciaal asset of having specialized response units to reach out to the community and bring about safer outcomes for those in crisis.
With this new chapter starting for Reno PD, the C.I.T. program would need resources for continuation of service. The natural consideration was to look toward an agency with constant development and resources in the field of Mental Health focused on the community population influx of combat veterans returning home with a myriad of mental health challenges to address. The C.I.T. program was transferred to its new host with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Police Service and the C.I.T Coordination responsibilities assumed by (then) LT. Robert Smith. Classes are still based at the Regional Public Safety Training Center, but with enhanced support for the growing need for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) affected veterans throughout the community, the V.A. was an obvious answer to carry out the future C.I.T. coordination and support needs. The core components of the C.I.T. program, established and imparted upon hundreds of C.I.T. operatives throughout Northern Nevada by Paddy O and his able accomplices throughout the community are timeless and will always be maintained. This program is a proven success, and will continue to thrive because public safety and dedicated service can never be compromised nor overlooked.
In February 2012, with the advancement of LT Smith to Deputy Chief, VA Police, and subsequently to Chief of Police, Corporal John Burrows, of the US Department of Veterans Affairs Police Service (formerly employed at Lake’s Crossing Forensic Mental Health Center) was selected for the Northern Nevada Regional CIT Coordinator position, and Chief Smith assumed the role of Program Manager. This program has proven to be successful in countless daily encounters with persons who are experiencing a psychiatric crisis. For more information about this program, please email Chief Smith at Robert.Smith@vapolice.net or refer to the “Resource Directory” page of this website by selecting the link directly beneath the header graphic on each page of the site.
C.I.T. Training Course # 300027 at the Regional Public Safety Training Center – Reno, NV
Next Class: 13-17 June, 2016