Crisis Intervention Response Team

(Above) A Harris County Sheriff's Office CIRT deputy and his clinician partner respond to a call to a woman in mental health crisis.

Historic Collaboration

A press conference was held on October 27, 2011, to announce a joint Harris County Sheriff's Office/Houston Police Department (HPD) Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) that serves the entire Houston/Harris County region. The inter-local agreement was approved by Harris County Commissioner's Court and Houston City Council and allows the Harris County Sheriff's Office to join with HPD and The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD's existing CIRT program. The joint approach allows resources to be combined throughout the city and county in an effort to reach the needs of citizens struggling with serious mental health problems throughout the entire Harris County.

Crisis Intervention Response Team

The Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) was implemented in September 2011. CIRT pairs a masters-level licensed behavioral health professional from the local mental health authority, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, with a CIT-trained deputy. The Harris County Sheriff's Office currently has nine teams. These teams respond to the most serious calls involving individuals in serious mental health crises, go to SWAT scenes when available, perform proactive and follow-up investigations, give community presentations, and check by with other local law enforcement agencies seeking their professional assistance

CIRT is a jail diversion program. These teams, with their access to consumer information, advanced training, and knowledge of available resources, are able to take the majority of individuals they respond to who have committed a crime to a mental health facility rather than jail. Most of the consumers diverted from jail have committed minor nuisance type crimes like trespassing because they wanted a place to sleep or shoplifting because they were hungry. It is believed these individuals, who are in crisis and it is clear their mental illness is a factor or the reason for the crime, are better served getting help for their mental illness than entering the criminal justice system. There have been mentally ill inmates in the Harris County Jail who have spent six and seven months on a trespassing charge that carries a maximum sentence of three days if found guilty! The reason for the long stays is the inmate is not competent to stand trial. While in the jail many get additional charges on them because it is difficult in their mental state to follow the strict rules and guidelines of the jail.

CIRT is a very successful program and valued by the patrol deputies and supervisors who are able to call them to help with their most severe CIT calls. The Harris County Sheriff's Office has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Houston Police Department (HPD) allowing Harris County teams to respond to calls in the city when needed and HPD officers to respond to calls in the county when needed. CIRT personnel from both agencies train together. They receive quarterly eight-hour training to help maintain their specialized skills and knowledge.

 

Contact Us About Our Crisis Intervention Response Team Program

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Sergeant Willie Hodge

Crisis Intervention Response Team

Bureau of Mental Health and Jail Diversion

Contact Us About Our Crisis Intervention Response Team Program

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Sergeant Kelley Hudson

Crisis Intervention Response Team

Bureau of Mental Health and Jail Diversion