The Tinley Park Police Department announced this morning, in their weekly community e-newsletter, that it has formed a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) comprised of 13 officers specially trained to recognize and respond to a variety of mental health issues while on duty.

“Sometimes, situations involving people with mental health issues can escalate quickly because responding officers aren’t aware there is an underlying issue or issues causing the behavior,” Tinley Park Deputy Chief Lawrence Rafferty said. “This helps to correct that by giving officers the tools and training they need to deal with those situations appropriately.”

Orland Park started its own CIT program, and thanks to a grant from Trinity Health Services was able to invite Tinley Park, along with other surrounding communities, to join them.

Trinity Services, Inc. provides assistance to those 18 years or older who are experiencing a mental health crisis; offering help to manage symptoms and emotions in a safe environment

As part of this new program for the Tinley Park Police Department, mental health experts from Trinity are available to offer real-time advice and answer questions via iPads that CIT officers carry with them at all times. Trinity also uses data collected via the iPads to better serve those with mental health issues in the future.

Chief Rafferty said that the ultimate goal is to have 50% of the entire police force CIT-trained, with two to three CIT-certified officers on duty during every shift. The class to become CIT-certified consists of 40 hours of training in scenario-based situations. “With mental health centers closing across the area, many people in need of real help oftentimes don’t get it,” Rafferty said. “This can help.”

For more information, please contact Sgt. Jon Mittelman at (708) 444-5319.

What Is CIT?

Cover of White Paper of Sheriffs Addressing the Mental Health Crisis in the Community and the Jails

CIT is a co-response program, where mental health professionals and law enforcement work together in a crisis in order to address critical situations with care and compassion. The goal is minimizing unneccessary negative outcomes and avoiding the need for force. And the larger goal is resolving an issue at the scene.

“The people who are least qualified to address the mental health issues, which are the cops, are being called upon too often to deal with the symptoms of mental illness,” Gualtieri said. “Criminalizing mental health disorders is not the way it should be handled.”

Sheriff Bob Guitieleri of Pinellas County (FL,

CIT programs enable law enforcement to view a mental health crisis from the perspective of the person suffering the crisis, so they respond appropriately. CIT also helps law enforcement be better able to identify people suffering mental disabilities such as autism, Asperger syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Why CIT Is Significant

For Tinley Park and the Chicago Southland CIT may seem new, but it’s actually been a round for a few years now. And no surprise, it is in step with the global normalization of mental health services that we’ve been seeing in this last year of the pandemic.

For those of you who don’t know, I manage the website for the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA), the leader in bringing innovations to the law enforcement community. Working with them since 2019 gives me the unique privilege of learning about things before they become public. So I’ve been aware of CIT since I started working with the MCSA. Actually, the MCSA have been working with law enforcement across America on creating co-response mental health programs since I started work with them. And as I’ve seen CIT adoption rates across all counties rise, 2021 so far has been the year that really sticks out for me.

But the greater significance of this story is pointing out that we are witnessing the beginning of a pivotal paradigm shift between two fields that both aim to help people, but in different ways. The model for how to deal with different emergencies is starting to evolve and CIT is the seed that finally took. Let’s see how far this flower goes!

Learn more about CIT at the official website of CIT International CITinternational.org and the National Alliance of Mental Illness’ CIT page.

Recommended Reading

If you’d like to learn more innovative practices that have proven successful in reducing the arrest and incarceration of individuals living with mental illness in jurisdictions across the country, read this white paper: Sheriffs Addressing the Mental Health Crisis in the Community and the Jails, which is a report developed by the Major County Sheriffs of America in partnership with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC).

I also recommend this article penned by Loudon County’s Sheriff Mike Chapman for The Hill this past April, called Mental Health Training For Law Enforcement Is Key To Handling Crises.

And for a comprehensive list of mental health resources in Chicagoland, please visit the Community Organizations page on the Village website. The most precient resource for families, mothers, and women for those in Tinley Park and nearby towns is the Crisis Center for South Suburbia.

Crisis Center for South Suburbia
P.O. Box 39, Tinley Park, IL 60477
(708) 429-7233  |  https://www.crisisctr.org
Emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence, a 24-hour crisis line, counseling, advocacy and community education

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