The Impact of Crisis Intervention Team Training on Law Enforcement Officers: An Evaluation of Self-Efficacy and Attitudes Toward People with Mental Illness
Law enforcement officers (LEOs) routinely respond to calls involving people with mental illness (PMI) in crisis. While LEOs have come to expect a wide spectrum of needs for assistance from PMI, there is often little to no training provided for responding to these encounters. This is an alarming fact given that 7 to 10 % of all law enforcement contacts involve PMI. It has been found that the lack of training leaves LEOs perceiving themselves as ill-equipped to manage mental health-related situations, creating a great deal of anxiety. The insufficient training has also been determined to negatively impact PMI receiving help, either through exacerbation of the problem or a dismissal of the crisis. As an answer to these difficulties, Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training was developed to better inform officers about mental illnesses, provide skills useful for these encounters, and prevent unnecessary arrests.
The purpose of the present study was to investigate the impact of CIT training on officers’ (1) perceptions of self-efficacy when working with PMI and (2) attitudes toward PMI. The Self-Efficacy Scale (SES), designed specifically to assess the self-efficacy of LEOs when encountering a person with mental illness, was administered to 58 officers pre/post CIT training as well as 40 officers with no CIT training. Additionally, the Community Attitudes Toward the Mentally Ill (CAMI) was administered to the same groups of officers in order to measure attitudes along the four subscales of Authoritarianism, Benevolence, Social Restrictiveness, and Community Mental Health Ideology (CMHI). It was hypothesized that CIT training would significantly increase LEOs’ perceived self-efficacy when working with PMI, result in significantly more positive attitudes toward people with mental illness, and that LEOs with no CIT training would not significantly differ from officers assessed at the pre-CIT stage.
Results, obtained through the use of an ANOVA, indicate that officers who participated in CIT training achieved a significant increase in perceived self-efficacy from pre to post measures. Contrary to expectations, a significant difference was found between officers who did not choose to participate in CIT training and officers assessed at pre-CIT—it was indicated that non-CIT officers reported a higher degree of perceived self-efficacy. Alternatively, there was no significant difference found between non-CIT officers and pre-CIT officers on measures of attitudes toward PMI. Through the use of a MANOVA, it was determined that CIT training effected the desired changes of increasing benevolent and community-inclusive attitudes toward PMI, as well as decreasing socially restrictive attitudes. The prediction that CIT training would decrease authoritarian attitudes toward PMI was not supported. Implications for these outcomes are discussed along with recommendations for law enforcement agencies and mental health advocates.
0651: Continuing education