Crisis Response

The Mission of CRT
The mission of the Hazelwood Police Department Crisis Response Team is to deliver positive law enforcement crisis intervention service to people with mental illness in the City Of Hazelwood:

Providing cooperative community partnerships of law enforcement, mental health service providers, consumers, families, and advocates.

Coordinating and enhancing services to people with mental illness and/or substance abuse problems through law enforcement based Crisis Response Teams.

The Problem
The Problem: 3.5 Million Americans have severe mental illnesses and fewer than 50% receive even minimally adequate treatment. How many of these under-served people are in your community and how much patrol time do they require?

Policing has the unenviable reality of being, in many situations, the last intervention option available. When other "crisis intervention professionals" are unable to effectively deal with an escalating situation, they have the option of withdrawing and calling for assistance.

The police do not have the alternative of dialing 911 when situations intensify. The police are required to respond in circumstances where no other professional will attend. The officer is expected to have the ability to effectively communicate, counsel, mediate, advise, empathize, protect, and console. The officer is expected to be intelligent and have the physical capacity and willingness to forcibly intervene without malice. The police are expected to calmly and compassionately render assistance to the public while at the same time instilling fear into the criminal element of society.

This may seem an impossible endeavor; but to make the task even more daunting, the police officer is asked to perform these feats several times each day without complaint and many times without thanks.


What is CRT?
Crisis response Team (CRT) training, developed in Memphis TN, provides a model of specialized law enforcement expertise. Volunteer officers, based in the general patrol division, work in cooperation with the mental health system, consumers, and families. Trained CRT Police officers carry on the normal duties of law enforcement, but switch to a specialist role when a potential mental health-related crisis is identified within the City of Hazelwood.

CRT focuses on de-escalation strategies, and redirecting the individual from the criminal justice system to the mental health care system. In turn, the mental health care system assumes "custody" of the individual, and provides directed and non-restrictive accessibility to a full range of health care and social service options.

How does CRT work?
Selected/volunteer police officers take part in a 5-day, 40-hour training program. The program includes mental health and substance abuse experts, legal experts, consumer/family advocates, and experienced CRT officers. Once trained CRT officers are in place, high-risk crisis calls are directed to an on-duty CRT officer.

The CRT officer leads a police-based crisis intervention of generalist officers. The CRT officer, employing a de-escalation intervention strategy, may access BHR crisis services, or transport the individual to a partnered hospital emergency room.

The mental health system assumes "custody" and provides a "police-friendly" efficient turnaround time for the officer to return to normal patrol duties.

What is more than just training?
Training is more than a "one-shot" deal. Several times a year, officers meet for debriefing meetings and in-service trainings to problem solve tactical issues, discuss different experiences and scenarios they have encountered, and participate in advanced training. This allows officers a chance to reinforce and sharpen their skills, address new problems, and build cohesiveness.

Why does our community need CRT?
Police are often the first to be called for a crisis situation involving persons with a mental illness. These crisis situations can and have involved officer and citizen injury or deaths in the St. Louis area.

CRT training significantly decreases injuries, death, and community dissent. In turn, persons with a mental illness are diverted to the mental health system and treatment rather than to jail or to return to the streets.

Citizens become more confident in reporting crisis situations and police officers are better prepared to respond safely to those situations. Crisis intervention shifts from lose-lose to win-win.

What are known outcomes of CRT?
Increases officer/citizen safety
Decreases police liability and litigation
Extends officers' skills
Increases on-scene expertise
Reduces the time officers spend at hospital emergency departments
Increases officer/community confidence
Increases professionalism
Empowers officers to divert person(s) with a mental illness to treatment
Increases cooperation between criminal justice and mental health systems
Establishes responsibility and accountability
Decreases arrest rates
Reduces recidivism