Memphis Model Crisis Intervention Team Program

*Update: February 2021 - This model does not reflect the current stance of Pivot. 

Since this blog was published, Pivot staff have reviewed developments in the efficacy of the Memphis Model, and received feedback from community members regarding its inability to address the needs of people experiencing crises. For this reason, this blog and its policy position are subject to internal review and will be updated in 2021.

The Memphis Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is an innovative police-based first responder program that has become nationally known as the "Memphis Model" of pre-arrest jail diversion for those in a mental illness crisis. This program provides law enforcement-based crisis intervention training for helping those individuals with mental illness. Involvement in CIT is voluntary and based in the patrol division of the police department. In addition, CIT works in partnership with those in mental health care to provide a system of services that is friendly to the individuals with mental illness, family members, and the police officers. CIT has been recognized as a best practice model by multiple (US) organizations (Source:

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The basic elements of the Memphis Model include:

  • a core 20% of patrol officers selected for their knowledge of mental illness, characteristics of patience, compassion, and communication;

  • CIT officers spread throughout the city on all shifts, performing regular patrol duties, identified with a CIT officer pin, and available for immediate dispatch to a mental health crisis scene;

  • a specialized 40-hour training program for CIT officers which includes core components on mental illnesses, medications, cross-cultural mental health issues, drug use/dependency, local services, mental health law, interactions with persons living with mental illness, and especially crisis de-escalation communications;

  • a specialized 8 – 16 hour training for call takers/dispatchers to familiarize them with the CIT program, how to identify a mental health related call, and questions to ask to obtain further information to forward to dispatched officers; and 

  • a one-stop no refusal emergency receiving centre (hospital based or otherwise) with 15-minute "turnaround time" policy for CIT officers. This receiving centre would provide a single point of entry for immediate assessment and care for the individual in crisis and provide referral to community services as needed and appropriate.

Memphis Model CIT is an innovative, community-based, and collaborative program to increase safety for persons in crisis, family members, the public, and police officers, and to divert individuals living with mental illness from the criminal justice system to appropriate mental health supports in a safe and effective manner.

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