Missoula’s Crisis Intervention Team Moves to Police Department
Missoula’s Crisis Intervention Team is marking its seventh year of service to the community, and will be transferring its location from the Missoula Fire Department to the Police Department.
KGVO spoke to the Crisis Intervention Team Program Manager Theresa Williams about the purpose of the program, not to be confused with the newly created Mobile Support Team.
“I know there's a lot of confusion out there now that we have a new Mobile Support Team, which is a clinician and an EMT paired together to respond to crises,” began Williams. “CIT, which stands for Crisis Intervention Team is really the systematic approach that we're going to take to changing how we respond to behavioral health crises in our community. So the Mobile Support Team is actually a component of the Crisis Intervention Team, just as our other partners in the system that are working with folks in crisis.”
“So, CIT is a multi agency program, working with law enforcement, first responders, mental health providers or hospitals, all of these folks and we're really trying to work on the local community and statewide solutions to changing how we respond to people in a behavioral health crisis,” she said.
Williams once asked the 9-1-1 center about the number of calls that deal with behavioral health problems and received a startling, if not surprising reply.
“99% of the calls that we have are in relation to behavioral health,” she said. “So they see a lot, and when law enforcement and 911 are called, inevitably, someone's in crisis, and so we're trying to train law enforcement to identify that crisis. How do we ensure that it's the appropriate response, and we're helping to refer them. So, it's really hard to quantify right now, but that is everything that we're building into the data analyst position. And so she's working on those pieces for us.”
Williams remarked on the fact that she is moving the Crisis Intervention Team away from the Missoula Fire Department into the Missoula Police Department.
“This last year, helping them (the fire department) increase their awareness around mental health, and then moving over to the PD (police department),” she said. “I think it'll just continue to help us build those relationships. So, in my years I've worked at the jail; I've now worked at the fire department, and so the next step does feel like if I work with the police department, we can continue to grow and expand what we're working on here.”
Each year, CIT Coordinators host a 40-Hour Basic Academy. Its purpose is to assist law enforcement officers, detention staff, dispatchers and other emergency responders in engaging, assessing, and assisting individuals in crisis with mental health and/or co-occurring substance use disorders.