IMPROVING OUR RESPONSE TO CRISES INVOLVING PERSONS WITH MENTAL ILLNESSES
The Suffolk County Police Department is constantly working to improve response effectiveness in these challenging cases. Progress has been made and the work is continuing as police officials work collaboratively with mental health experts to better respond to calls of this nature.
CRISIS INTERVENTION TRAINING: The Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program is a nationally recognized model for safely and effectively assisting people with mental health and substance abuse disorders. CIT training consists of members of law enforcement, mental health providers and advocates, and emergency services personnel who provide officers with knowledge, skills and support necessary to de-escalate crisis situations and then divert individuals suffering from mental illness from the criminal justice system, when appropriate. Since 2019, 220 officers have been trained in this 40-hour course with additional trainings planned.
ICAT: INTERGRATING, COMMUNICATIONS, ASSESSMENT AND TACTICS: Beginning in January 2021, the department implemented ICAT Training as part of academy training for recruits. ICAT provides first responding police officers with the tools, skills, and options they need to successfully and safely defuse a range of critical incidents. Developed by PERF (Police Executive Research Forum) with input from hundreds of police professionals from across the United States, ICAT takes the essential building blocks of critical thinking, crisis intervention, communications, and tactics, and puts them together in an integrated approach to training.
ICAT is designed for situations involving people who are unarmed or are armed with weapons other than firearms, and may be experiencing a mental health or other crisis. The training program is anchored by the Critical Decision-Making Model which helps officers assess situations, make safe and effective decisions, and document and learn from their actions. ICAT incorporates different skill sets into a unified training approach that emphasizes scenario-based exercises, as well as lecture and case study opportunities.
911 CALL DIVERSION: 911 operators will receive additional training to recognize a person experiencing a mental health crisis. If the call does not involve the person harming themselves or others, and it’s appropriate, the call will be transferred to Family Service League to speak with a social worker in an attempt to provide needed resources. For responses requiring a police response, SCPD officers will respond as well a Mobile Crisis Team, when the team is available.
HIGH UTILIZER IDENTIFICATION: Has established a Data Driven Hub and working group with mental health professionals. The working group will be comprised of SCPD personnel and mental health professionals who proactively reach out to those individuals in hopes of providing them with needed services and resources.