Detroit police expand crisis intervention team to better respond to mental health calls

A program designed to help police officers help people with mental health needs has expanded to another Detroit police precinct.

Crisis intervention team officers are trained to identify people who need help and connect them with mental health support.

"The crisis intervention team is part of the mental health co-response pilot program. Our CIT issues include crisis intervention trained officers, mental health specialists that will work together to respond to mental health consumers," Chief James White said.

The 7th Precinct is the sixth police precinct in the city to launch the program.

"I can’t tell you exactly how many mental health runs we have on a daily basis. This is huge for the city, for the police department," said Capt. Conway Petty, with the 7th Precinct.

Two officers who recently completed the training were at the Monday press conference where the expansion was announced.

"I’m excited to start doing what we need to do as far as our community, especially in our precinct area. We have a large community of mental health illnesses in our area," said Officer Charlie Walker.

White said the number of contacts officers have had with people in need shows that the program is valuable.

"The 9th Precinct has had 2,581 contacts," White said. "12th Precinct, since June of 2021, 601 contacts, 252 contacts are self-initiated.

Self initiating contact allows officers to identify a need and respond appropriately to prevent a potential tragic outcome.

"They’re on patrol out in the community, and they see someone in obvious need of assistance," White said.

Officers also have the support of social workers.

"Once they assess the scene is safe, we introduce ourselves as a social worker then we begin to figure out what the issue is, assist with deescalation, and assist with resources," said Brashaun Kirkland, a social worker with Community Network Services.

Detroit Police believe this program not only benefits the person in need of treatment but also the community at large.

"Mental health trained officers for our community adds a layer of safety, not only for the community, the mental health consumer, but officers as well," White said.