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Police Complaints Board Releases Report on Updates for the Crisis Intervention Officers Program

Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Variations to the current model could benefit department

WASHINGTON, DC – The District of Columbia Police Complaints Board (PCB), the governing body of the Office of Police Complaints (OPC), today released a report to Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Peter Newsham recommending updates to the Crisis Intervention Officer Program.

Since 2009, MPD has utilized the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) community policing model, as recommended by OPC in 2006. This model requires all incoming officers to receive basic mental health training and all officers designated as Crisis Intervention Officers (CIOs) to receive 40 hours of additional training. The program was most recently updated in 2015.

The CIT model is widely considered a best practice in policing. Since implementation of this model has become widespread, many other departments have applied slight variations. Relevant variations include hiring mental health professionals within the department, increasing dispatcher training, and providing CIOs with additional information to better handle situations.

Thus, the PCB recommends the following to help improve and facilitate better relations and increase trust between MPD officers and community members experiencing mental health issues:

  • MPD should continue its partnership with the Department of Behavioral Health by working together to monitor and evaluate the new Community Response Team (CRT). To be most effective the CRT must be a real-time resource for CIOs when they are dealing with difficult situations.
     
  • MPD should coordinate with the Department of Behavioral Health and the National Alliance of Mental Illness to ensure training is expanded for Office of Unified Communications dispatchers, to empower first line responders to have the tools to quickly identify a situation as being related to mental health and provide that information to the responding officers.
     
  • MPD should create a database for CIOs to provide pertinent details of interactions with mental health consumers (MHCs) to other CIOs who encounter that same MHC in the future. This database must be easily accessible to officers in the field, to be utilized effectively as they are responding to a call involving a MHC.

“By examining best practices of other departments, MPD can learn from others’ examples of how to best serve the community,” said Michael G. Tobin, OPC’s executive director. “Improving the CIT model could decrease police misconduct that stems from inappropriate responses to individuals facing mental illnesses.”

To view the full report, visit www.policecomplaints.dc.gov/page/policy-recommendations.