How Law Enforcement CIT Training Is Saving Lives

Many of my family law and criminal cases involve parties with various mental-health issues that complicate the resolution of their legal matters. Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a week-long law enforcement Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training class in Miami-Dade County. CIT training provides law enforcement officers with the tools they need to deal with subjects suffering from mental disorders or addictions. In collaboration with mental-health professionals, law enforcement officers are able to direct these individuals to proper therapeutic channels as opposed to the criminal-justice system. Law enforcement CIT programs improve community relations as well as the safety of officers and the persons they come into contact with on the streets who are in crisis.

I took the knowledge I learned from CIT training and successfully applied it to my law practice. As a result, I am able to direct my clients to appropriate mental-health professionals who assist both the client and my law firm in navigating the client’s mental-health issues while resolving the legal issues. On occasion, I have been able to form a team of legal and mental-health professionals to collaboratively work together on the most critical cases involving parties in or near a mental-health crisis. I have used various portions of the CIT protocol to resolve divorce, child custody, domestic violence, Marchman Act and Baker Act cases.

Recently, in a very contentious child custody case, my client’s child contacted my client and began making very credible suicide threats. My client happens to be a local police officer and is CIT trained. After the crisis was stabilized, my client contacted me and explained what had happened. I immediately recognized the actions my client took as textbook CIT protocol. My client was able to quickly and successfully resolve his child’s mental-health crisis, access the appropriate law enforcement and mental-health professionals and get treatment for the child. This is but one example of the benefits of CIT training saving a life, a very precious life, during a situation that had the potential to become a life-altering disaster. I am sure these types of incidents occur regularly in the community and across the nation with little mention. This is perhaps the most serious example I will ever face as a lawyer representing clients, but I find comfort in the knowledge that there are professionals in my community who can successful navigate such potential tragedies.