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Advancing Crisis Intervention: The Evolving Role of Policing in Behavioral Health Emergencies

Updated: Jan 26

January 25, 2024

Sergeant Richard Zappile


Policing is an ever-evolving discipline, requiring officers to be aware of and possess many different skills. Recently, tactics such as de-escalation and slowing the reaction time of police in certain interactions have proven to be beneficial tools, especially when dealing with behavioral health issues or persons in crisis.


We must ask ourselves if we are as prepared as we can be to best address such circumstances.

More and more, police nationwide are becoming aware of or trained in crisis intervention response, and it has proven to be an important tool for police. The goals of CIT International, which encourages the Memphis Model, are "...to develop the most compassionate and effective crisis response system that is least intrusive in a person’s life..." and "...to help individuals with mental disorders and addictions access medical/mental health treatment rather than involving them in the criminal justice system due to illness-related behaviors." (CIT International) The American Psychological Association estimates that at least 20% of police calls for service involve a behavioral health or substance abuse crisis. (Abramson, 2021) We must ask ourselves if we are as prepared as we can be to best address such circumstances.


Planning and implementing policies to effectively guide field personnel is an essential element of police executive leadership. Considering today’s challenges for police relating to behavioral health crises, leaders may want to consider implementing strategies to make every effort to ensure officers are trained to handle situations involving people experiencing behavioral health issues, moments of crisis, or who are otherwise emotionally disturbed.


Empowering Law Enforcement: Tailored CIT Solutions and Support from Aspirant LLC


At Aspirant Consulting Group, we recognize the critical importance of this evolving landscape in policing and the urgent need for comprehensive training and policy development in response to behavioral health crises. Our approach is tailored to assist agencies in building a robust and effective framework for CIT and related crisis response strategies. By leveraging our expertise and resources, we offer a range of services designed to enhance the capabilities of law enforcement agencies in these crucial areas.


Our team of seasoned law enforcement professionals collaborates with agencies to develop and refine policies that align with best practices and the latest research in crisis intervention and mental health. Understanding that each agency faces unique challenges, our approach is highly customizable, ensuring that the solutions we provide are relevant and effective for each community and its specific needs.


In addition to training and policy development, our services extend to ongoing support and consultation. We understand that the journey towards improved crisis intervention is continuous, and we are committed to being a long-term partner for agencies as they navigate these complex and sensitive areas of policing.


By choosing Aspirant as your partner in this endeavor, your agency will be at the forefront of implementing compassionate, effective, and sustainable practices in crisis intervention. Together, we can create a safer, more understanding, and empathetic environment for both law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

For more information on how we can assist your agency in these vital areas, please visit our website at www.aspirantllc.com.



Sgt. Richard Zappile is a key member of the Delaware River Port Authority Police Department, serving in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and a policy implementation specialist with Aspirant Consulting Group. His career is marked by significant contributions to Patrol Operations, policy development, investigations, and training. With certifications in crisis intervention, DUI enforcement, and emergency management, Rich combines hands-on expertise with academic knowledge from his Master's in Homeland Security Administration and Bachelor's in Criminal Justice. His blend of skills and education enhances his effectiveness in law enforcement and policy implementation.



Sources

CIT International - What is CIT? (n.d.). https://www.citinternational.org/What-is-CIT


Abramson, A. (2021, July 1). Building mental health into emergency responses. Apa.org; American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2021/07/emergency-responses

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