Lenexa crisis intervention team program recognized

Lenexa crisis intervention team program recognized
Posted on 04/21/2021

The Lenexa Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program was one of just four agencies, and the first municipal agency, across the United States to earn national certification this year by CIT International.

“It is a high honor to be the first municipal agency in the nation to earn this certification and I believe it reflects our commitment to best serving those individuals who live with mental illness in our community,” said Chief of Police Dawn Layman.

The CIT program is a community partnership of law enforcement, mental health and addiction professionals, individuals who live with mental illness and/or addiction disorders, their families and other advocates. It is an innovative community response model, including police-based crisis intervention training, to help those in crisis access treatment rather than entering the criminal justice system.

The Lenexa Police Department has been part of CIT since 2005. CIT International recommends agencies have at least 20% of their personnel trained in CIT. To date, over 50% of the Lenexa Police Department personnel have volunteered for and completed CIT certification training.

“The Lenexa Police Department plays an important role in our community’s crisis response system,” said Lenexa Police Captain Wade Borchers who oversees the CIT program in Lenexa. “Our personnel are trained to recognize when a person may be in crisis and divert them away from the criminal justice system. Through this recognition and diversion, it gives those in crisis the opportunity to heal and recover through treatment. This fosters the best possible outcome for all of those involved.”

In the first quarter of 2021 — from Jan. 1 to March 31 — the Lenexa Police Department responded to 284 calls involving mental health crisis. The CIT program plays an important role in these calls for service. 

The CIT model was first developed in Tennessee in 1988 in response to a deadly law enforcement incident involving a man experiencing a mental health crisis who was shot and killed by a Memphis police officer. CIT is a collaborative community-policing model that enables communities to be better equipped to respond to individuals experiencing mental health crises. Since its inception, CIT has grown into a national best practice.

The purpose of certification is to identify and reward those programs operating with fidelity to the model.

“Through the certification process, we received valuable feedback from experts on what we are doing well and where we could improve,” said Chief Layman. “This process will help in making critical decisions in the future regarding our response to those that are in crisis.”

CIT International is a nonprofit organization comprised of mental health experts, mental health advocates, Ph.D.-level educators, and law enforcement executives who work to establish recommended standards for developing, implementing and sustaining CIT programs.

Published April 21, 2021