Crisis Intervention Training

Pictured Above

A class of detention cadets receiving the 40-hour CIT class at the Harris County Sheriff's Office Academy, June 2017.

History of CIT

The Crisis Intervention Team training started in Memphis, Tennessee in 1988 following the fatal shooting of a man with a history of mental illness and substance abuse by a Memphis police officers. Due to the public outcry of the shooting a community task force was put together consisting of law enforcement, mental health, addiction, and mental health advocates who worked together to develop what is known today as the Memphis Model.

Crisis Intervention Training

The Harris County Sheriff's Office has initiated the most significant training initiative in its history. Starting in June 2017, all detention and classified cadets receive the 40-hour Mental Health Officer class in the academy. In addition, four Mental Health Officer classes will be offered each year for veteran personnel. A specialized version of the class will be developed for all High Risk Operations Unit (HROU) and Hostage Negotiation personnel. Starting in January 2018, an eight-hour refresher class will be mandatory for all patrol deputies, sergeants, negotiators, and HROU decision makers who have received the 40-hour Mental Health Officer class. The training is being coordinated by the Bureau of Mental Health Policy and Jail Diversion Projects.

 

Training Provided

  • 40-hour CIT class for detention cadets
  • 40-hour CIT class for classified cadets
  • 40-hour CIT class for veteran officers (provided quarterly)
  • 8-hour CIT refresher class for patrol CIT deputies
  • 40-hour CIT class for High Risk Operations Unit and hostage negotiators

I was a student in the first CIT class on June 14th. I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your class. I really learned a lot from you. The group assignments, examples, and videos were very helpful and really helped me to understand the topic at hand. I have taken three CIT classes before and I can honestly say this is the best class I've taken thus far. Keep up the good work!

Lateral Cadet

40-Hour CIT Class, HCSO Academy

Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) Deputy Amber Lewis teaching a class on Introduction to CIRT in the 40-hour CIT class.

MILO is like a giant video game! This is one of my favorite parts of the training. The simulator is very high tech. A great way to learn and have fun at the same time.

Detention Cadet

40-Hour CIT Class, HCSO Academy

The MILO System

The MILO Range Pro training system offers advanced interactive Use-of-Force and tactical judgment training. The system can deliver a realistic, adaptable training environment. In addition to hundreds of ready-to-train scenarios, an extensive library of interactive graphics-based firearm drills and exercises are included ranging from simple plates and poppers to user-defined Course of Fire and Marksmanship drills. The included MILO Course Designer software empowers instructors to create new, fully interactive video scenarios and graphics firearm drills in minutes. The system is also used for crisis intervention training.

MILO Computer Simulator

Scenario-Based Training

Scenario-based training is an important component of the CIT classes provided in the Harris County Sheriff's Office. This training is accomplished with a $120,000 computer generated interactive simulator called MILO Range Use-of-Force and Firearms Training System. Students go through different scenarios. Some come with the system; others have been developed by personnel in the agency. The Harris County Sheriff's Office has detention and patrol-based scenarios.

Example of Scenario

One scenario developed by personnel in the Harris County Sheriff's Office is an inmate whose time on the phone is up. The inmate has just learned he has received a 65-year sentence and is understandably distraught. He wants to stay on the phone longer as he is talking with his mother. Some detention officers (students) take a firm stand and order the inmate off the phone. If asked why he won't get off the phone, the inmate states he just found out he received the 65-year sentence. Many detention officers do not actively listen and do not hear the inmate say this. Others hear him say it but don't care. If the detention officer orders the inmate to get off the phone the inmate becomes agitated and aggressive. On the other hand, if the detention officer responds with empathy and discusses the situation in a calm manner the inmate responds in kind. The behavior of the inmate branches into different responses depending on the approach taken by the detention officer. Once the scenario is over, usually 3 to 5 minutes, a facilitator will critique the interaction.

Example of Scenario

A second scenario is patrol-based and came with the system. It involves a 19-year-old male with schizophrenia. He is sitting outside in a lawn chair by the side of his house. The scenario starts with his father standing in the front lawn. When the officer (student) introduces himself the father says he called about his son who is schizophrenic, not taking his medication, and in crisis. He adds his son is also drinking alcohol, has done this in the past, and has had to have been hospitalized twice. The father requests assistance getting his son to the hospital. If the officer walks toward the side of the house he will see the son. Several different reactions (branches) are programmed depending on the approach by the officers. If the officer remains calm, discusses the situation, offers help by taking him to the hospital, and is reassuring, the son will go with the officer with no altercation. However, if the officer presents very authoritatively, commanding, and physical an altercation will occur.

Facilitation

At the conclusion of each scenario a facilitator critiques the student's response. Students love going through MILO. Many had described it as a giant video game. Although fun and entertaining, MILO provides quality scenario-based training.

Family Member Presentation

An important part of CIT training is a presentation by a family member. Shown above is Mr. Steve Hobart, a member of the Isensee Foundation for Safe Police Response. Sean Darrell Isensee died in 2013 during a mental health crisis. He developed bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder in his late teens. He struggled with that for the rest of his life. On the last day of his life, Sean was shot and killed by a police officer. Ted Isensee and his wife formed The Isensee Foundation in Sean's memory to prevent similar tragedies. They are not anti-police but work with police to help educate them about mental illness and proven strategies for responding safely to individuals in mental health crises.

Similarly, Mr. Hobart's 19-year-old son Aaron was shot and killed by police on February 18, 2009. His mother called 911 asking for assistance in transporting Aaron to a hospital. Mr. Hobart gives a very compelling presentation about his son's mental illness, the circumstances leading to his death, and the impact mental illness and losing their son has had on the family.

 

(Above) Mr. Steve Hobart of the Isensee Foundation for Safe Police Response giving a presentation.

Mr. Hobart's presentation was very moving. I had a cousin who was shot and killed by the police and I can relate. I really appreciate Mr. Hobart telling his story.

Detention Cadet

40-Hour CIT Class, HCSO Academy

Above

Mr. Jack Callahan presenting to a class of new detention officers. Jack has presented to thousands of criminal justice personnel across the state and nation.

Consumer Presentation

Mr. Jack Callahan has traveled across Texas presenting to criminal justice classes since 1995. His presentation is one of the most important parts of the class. Mr. Callahan, who works for Disability Rights Texas, is a mental health consumer. He talks about his life with mental illness for the benefit of the class. He has an extraordinary life story and is an excellent presenter. Putting a face to mental illness does more to change the attitudes of the students towards mental illness than any other part of the curriculum.

 

Jack Callahan was outstanding!

Detention Cadet

40-Hour CIT Class, HCSO Academy

I loved Mr. Callahan's presentation. His is an amazing story.

Detention Cadet

40-Hour CIT Class

Ms. Sarah Strang from The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (The Harris Center) giving a presentation on the Mobile Crisis Outreach Team and other programs provided by The Harris Center.

Basic Corrections Class J9, October 18, 2017.

Ms. Charlotte Jackson from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Houston giving a presentation on her organization.

Detention Officer Eric Uriegas teaching a class on CIT Concepts. Eric and Sergeant Raymond Lomelo are the bureau's full time mental health instructors.

The Importance of CIT Training

Officer Safety

The San Jose (CA) Police Department's CIT program reported a 32 percent decrease in officer injuries in the year following program implementation.

Reuland, A Guide to Implementing Police-Based Diversion Programs for People with Mental Illness, 2004

Use of Force

Officers responding to Critical Incident Training (CIT) designated situations were 82 percent less likely to use their guns as compared to non-CIT situations. (Critical Incident Training refers to Crisis Intervention Training)

Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences Houston Police Department Project on Officer-Involved Shootings  by Northwestern University, June 4, 2014

CIT and Officer Injuries

The Memphis (TN) Police Department reported that in the three years before implementing a CIT program the rate of injuries to officers responding to "mental disturbance calls" was 0.035 per 1,000 events (equal to one in 28,571 events). In the three years following program implementation, this rate decreased to 0.007 per 1,000 events (equal to one in 142,857 events.)

Dupont and Cochran, "Police response to mental health emergencies - barriers to change" 2000

Community Policing

A Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is a model for community policing that brings together law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency departments and individuals with mental illness and their families to improve responses to people in crisis.

National Alliance on Mental Illness Webpage

Our 40-Hour Curriculum

Our 40-hour curriculum has 18 modules: Introduction, Mood Disorders, Schizophrenia, Substance Abuse, Dementia, Psychosis, Excited Delirium Syndrome, Personality Disorders, Intellectual Developmental Disabilities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, De-escalation Techniques, Suicide Prevention, Jail Screening Form, Responding to Suicidal Inmates, Autism, Mental Health Code, Psychopharmacology.

Some of the videos included in the training include the following: Secrets of Your Mind, Tommy Lynn Sells, ABC News Nightline; What is Autism?, Autism Society; Autism Training Video for Law Enforcement First Responders, Autism Society Central Texas; Over Criminalized, Brave New Films; Brandon Marshall, E:60; The New Asylums, PBS Videos; Excited Delirium, Houston Police Department; Mindstorm, Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

The class includes presentations from The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, Isensee Foundation for Safe Police Response, consumer, and NAMI Greater Houston.

U. S. Marshals Service Training

On Saturday, September 9, 2017, Sergeant Raymond Lomelo presented a mental health overview class to members of the U.S. Marshals Service, Southern District of Texas. This was the second such presentation. The attendees were deputies assigned to the Judicial Security unit and Court Security Officers (CSOs).

The U.S. Marshals Service is the enforcement arm of the federal courts. The federal courts preside over a multitude of cases, including those with unique security considerations. Protecting court officials and safeguarding the public is a responsibility that allows no mistakes. It is an all-inclusive effort accomplished by employing preventive measures and continuously developing and implementing innovative protective tactics. The training was provided in to afford additional strategies and insight to members of the U.S. Marshals Service to recognize and respond to persons who may be in mental health crisis.

About Sergeant Raymond Lomelo

Sergeant Lomelo has over 20 years of service after graduating the police academy in 1995. He worked as a patrol officer and later directed operations of all communications personnel as the Communications Division Supervisor (TAC) and oversaw operations as 2nd Watch Patrol Supervisor. While a supervisor for the Harris County Constable's Office he created and implemented the Field Training Officer (FTO) and S.O.P. training programs for deputies and communication officers.

Upon laterally transferring to the Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) Raymond worked in District One as a patrol deputy and contract deputy. Upon being selected as a part time member of the Hostage Negotiation Team for the HCSO Sergeant Lomelo was drawn to the recently formed Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT). Upon completion of assessment and training he became a member of that team. During his time in CIRT he assisted numerous state and federal agencies in their investigations of individuals with serious mental illnesses.

Sergeant Lomelo is also a firearms and law enforcement instructor, who has developed Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) related classes for the HCSO and surrounding agencies. He has also presented to the United States Marshals Service, Fire and EMS services, as well as to community partnerships such as the Center for Recovering Families.

Upon being promoted to sergeant he transferred to the Detentions Bureau where he oversaw operations, outside patrol, Fire and Life Safety and the Inmate Community Work Program. During this time Sergeant Lomelo continued to instruct CIT related classes at the HCSO academy. Sergeant Lomelo was then transferred from the Detention Bureau to the Special Operations Division which was where CIRT and the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) was housed. He stayed as a supervisor of CIRT and HOT until the election of Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

Presently, Sergeant Lomelo is the lead instructor in the Bureau of Mental Health and Jail Diversion. In this capacity, Sergeant Lomelo oversees all mental health training in the HCSO.

Sergeant Raymond Lomelo

Instructor

Bureau of Mental Health and Jail Diversion

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About Detention Officer Eric Uriegas

Detention Officer Eric Uriegas was selected from a large pool of applicants as the second full time mental health trainer for the Bureau of Mental Health and Jail Diversion. Officer Uriegas is a graduate of Westfield High School and is currently working on obtaining a degree in the field of psychology. Eric joined the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in November 2012. During his career with the sheriff’s office Officer Uriegas has worked with thousands of inmates and has become a leader in de-escalation tactics used within the jail facilities. Over the years, Officer Uriegas has received commendations for contraband removal throughout the jail facilities. Through daily experiences, Officer Uriegas has sharpened his verbal communication skills in order to establish a report with even the toughest inmates housed in the 701 Jail. Officer Uriegas has used verbal communication, or “Verbal Judo”, to prevent situations from escalating to the use of physical force, with great success.

Officer Uriegas has a brother, Brandon, who was diagnosed with mental retardation, autism and epilepsy at the early age of two. Over the years, Officer Uriegas has witnessed firsthand the lack of available training and available resources for the families of people diagnosed with mental illness. Officer Uriegas hopes to be the advocating voice to the law enforcement community to help bring awareness to the difficulties faced by people diagnosed with mental illness. Officer Uriegas understands that the area of mental health is not simply “just a subject” but a way of life, for thousands of Americans across the United States.

 

Detention Officer Eric Uriegas

Instructor

Bureau of Mental Health and Jail Diversion

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