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Department of Health Services

Behavioral Health Division

Training for Law Enforcement

A key approach for crisis response is to develop strategies to train community members to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness and how to effectively intervene when a crisis occurs.

Our 4-day, 32-hour training academy is designed to increase officers' skills to intervene with mental health consumers, individuals with substance use issues, and individuals in crisis.

The CIT Academy goals include:

  • Ensure the safety of officers and civilians;
  • Increase officer understanding of mental illness;
  • Improve relationships with the community, particularly with mental health professionals, people with mental illness, and family members.

The CIT for Law Enforcement concept is based on a successful crisis intervention program that began in Memphis, Tennessee. Officers are trained to de-escalate potentially violent situations and ensure the safety and diversion of the mental health consumer to a treatment center.

CIT trains law enforcement officers to become more adept at assisting mental health consumers, individuals with substance abuse issues, and individuals in crisis. CIT is useful in domestic violence cases and in contacts with youth, elderly citizens, and the general public.

CIT is conducted by specially trained law enforcement personnel, mental health professionals, mental health consumers and family advocates. The training includes identification of types of mental illness, verbal skills for de-escalation of potentially violent situations, specifics on suicide intervention, and a mental health system overview.

To date, over 300 Sonoma County law enforcement personnel have been trained.