Detroit Police Expand Crisis Intervention Teams

July 31, 2021Joshua Skovlund
Detroit police department crisis intervention team

Whether it’s investigating crimes or sending a mental health specialist to follow up with someone suffering from mental illness, the Detroit Police Department is working hard to help members of its community and keep them safe. Photos courtesy of the Detroit Police Department/Facebook. Composite image by Joshua Skovlund/Coffee or Die Magazine.

The Detroit Police Department is expanding a program of mental health crisis intervention teams after seeing success in the pilot program it launched in December. DPD Chief James E. White announced the decision to expand the program throughout the whole department, possibly providing a solution to the high risk associated with police who encounter people suffering from mental health diseases.

People suffering from serious, untreated mental illnesses are 16 times more likely than other civilians to be fatally shot during encounters with police, according to a 2015 study by the Treatment Advocacy Center.

White, who was formerly the head of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, said in a press conference that mental health crises in Detroit can be a burden to officers. 

“[DPD] responds to approximately 4,000 [calls] per year for people dealing with some form of mental health crisis. That’s about 21 runs on average per day,” White said. “Sadly, in the United States, there are 30 million people in some form of a mental health crisis. We cannot arrest our way through mental illness.”

White feels that those who are already victims of undiagnosed and untreated mental health diseases are just re-victimized when they are arrested and charged for the crimes they commit. 

“They’re unable to really process or comprehend a lot of what’s happening to them,” White said. “They act out in many different ways. And usually, that results in some police intervention. This is a disease that victimizes our community, plain and simple.

“We see it day in and day out, we see it in impulsive decision making, we see people making long-term decisions for short-term problems — people making decisions to bring a gun to resolve relatively simple conflicts.”  

The program has put 98 members of the department, including both dispatchers and police officers, through crisis intervention training, which designates them as crisis intervention team (CIT) members. This training is meant to better equip officers to de-escalate encounters with people in mental health crises. 

The program itself has three parts. The first is the crisis intervention team, which has a dedicated squad car staffed with a behavioral health specialist and two CIT officers. This team only responds to nonviolent mental-illness-related 911 calls. 

Another segment of the program is the 911 integrated response, in which a behavioral health specialist working at the 911 dispatch center advises officers and talks with callers who may be facing a mental health crisis.

The third part of the program is the Detroit homeless outreach team. Clinicians contracted through the program seek out homeless people and connect them with resources to get them back on their feet. This section of the program was spurred by research from the National Alliance on Mental Illness indicating that 21% of people experiencing homelessness have been diagnosed with a behavioral health issue.

Read Next: Colorado Sheriff Launches ‘Co-Responders’ for Mental Health Calls

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

Ouija Board aircraft carrier
Low-Tech ‘Ouija Boards’ Have Helped Aircraft Carriers Operate for Decades

Since the 1920s, a low-tech tabletop replica of an aircraft carrier’s flight deck has been an essential tool in coordinating air operations.

Army vs. Navy mascot
The Navy Goat vs. the Army Mule: Mascot Origin Stories

For nearly as long as the Army-Navy football rivalry, the academies’ hoofed mascots have stared each other down from the sidelines. Here are their stories.

ukraine long-range weapon
Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Has Developed a Long-Range Weapon, a Day After Strike Deep Inside Russia

Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel the weapon was produced by Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries but gave no other details.

7 of the Best Movie Ambush Scenes of All Time

Ambushes make for great action scenes. Here are seven of the best to ever grace the big screen.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, reportedly named Ju Ae, review the honor guard during their visit to the navy headquarter in North Korea
North Korea Launches Missile Toward Sea After US Flies Bomber During Drills

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch occurred Wednesday but gave no further details, such as how far the missile flew.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved