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PD's Crisis Intervention Team follows new approach to policing

Posted Sept. 25, 2019

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The Fort Worth City Council saluted the FWPD Crisis Intervention Team, which recently helped to prevent a potential mass terrorism incident and direct a young man to mental health treatment.

When local officials received a call from a father concerned about his 27-year-old son who was struggling with a crisis and potentially purchasing a firearm, a specialized Fort Worth Police unit sprang into action.

The man withdrew money from the bank, then reportedly attempted to purchase a weapon. He was struggling through a deeply troubling mental crisis.

The FWPD’s Mental Health Crisis Intervention Team caught up with him just west of downtown after searching several areas. The man was diagnosed with severe mental health issues and was transported to a local clinic to receive treatment.

Police say a possible mass terrorism incident was diverted that day. On any given day, police help residents experiencing similar mental crises.

In September 2017, FWPD created the Mental Health Crisis Intervention Team, or CIT. The unit includes a sergeant, a corporal and six officers who are state-certified as mental health police officers. Each officer is assigned a patrol division.

“This group of officers deals on a daily basis with individuals who are working through mental crises,” Acting Police Chief Ed Kraus said. “It’s part of our philosophy of policing differently. Enforcement is not the first tool when dealing with these people.”

The primary purpose of the team is to reduce the hazards associated with interactions between law enforcement and people suffering from mental illness. A secondary purpose is to reduce return calls for service related to mental health sufferers, ultimately freeing patrol officers to provide better service to the community.

Over the last 13 months, the CIT has recorded:

  • 7,565 calls for service.
  • 383 mental detentions.
  • 4,697 mental health follow-up visits.
  • 17 criminal cases on mental health individuals when alternative methods or jail intervention have failed.
  • 859 total reports.

“The CIT is doing incredible work,” Mayor Betsy Price said. “Chief Kraus and I were at a White House meeting where there was intense interest in what our CIT is accomplishing. Only one or two other large cities are doing something like this on this level, and no other city has seen the success that we have in Fort Worth.”

Price said she continues to lobby federal partners for additional funding to expand the CIT.

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