Crisis Response Team

The Cheektowaga Police Department’s Crisis Response Team was created in 2012 after concerns arose regarding the way police were interacting with those suffering from mental illness. The Department had been noticing an increase in calls for service involving people suffering from mental illness and wanted to be sure that our officers were properly trained to handle these situations.

Research in training methods kept pointing to the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model. CIT is a nationally accepted research based model, which was created by Major Sam Cochraine of the Memphis, Tennessee Police Department. In May of 2012, with assistance from Crisis Services, the Cheektowaga Police Department, hosted their first CIT training class. The officers selected to be members of the Crisis Response Team completed forty (40) hours of training and obtained certification from the NYS Division of Criminal Justice. The training consisted of familiarization with mental illnesses, treatments and various community providers and resources. There have been numerous training sessions since 2012. The Department currently has twenty-seven (27) certified officers and all patrol supervisors are also certified.

Since its inception, the Cheektowaga Police Department’s Crisis Response Team has been successful in reducing the number of times people are transported involuntarily to the hospital and have reduced the number of times force is needed when dealing with those suffering from mental illness. Cheektowaga’s Crisis Response Team was Western NY’s first CIT. Cheektowaga officers have assisted numerous local departments in starting their own teams. Additionally, members of the Department have been recognized for their work in this field by local organizations such as the National Alliance for Mental Illness and the University of Buffalo’s Department of Psychology.

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