Individuals experiencing a mental health crisis can be overwhelmed by law enforcement responses and feel particularly vulnerable. However, outcomes are more favorable when officers are appropriately trained and in partnership with mental health professionals. In this article we will look at data measures for CIT programs.
The most well-known approach to improved police response is the Crisis Intervention Team model, which was developed over 30 years ago. Research has shown that CIT increases the likelihood of individuals being linked to mental health services and decreases the probability of arrest during crisis encounters.
When law enforcement agencies have had to reimagine crisis response, a data-driven strategy must be employed to bring about actionable outcomes. The term data-driven refers to the process of using data analysis and interpretation to inform every decision.
A data-driven strategy ensures that solutions are based on factual information and not simply hunches or assumptions. Simply put, a data-driven approach helps to predict the future by using past and current information. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a guide that outlines meaningful data points and measures for CIT programs to consider for producing and measuring outcomes for law enforcement crisis response. This article will examine a few of those points.
Data Measures for CIT programs are Only as Good as the Available Data
One of the most difficult challenges in setting up a data collection process is deciding which data is needed to support the CIT program. Answering these questions can help:
1. What measures and data metrics are related to the program’s goals and objectives?
2. What data can be used to understand the factors influencing law enforcement responses to people with mental illnesses?
3. How can data collection strategies be used based on community partners’ needs?
4. What are data collection procedures needed to measure outcome and performance?
5. What are the data collection procedures needed to revise and improve the program?
Establishing a clear connection between the data and the program’s stated goals and objectives is essential. Partners can meet to determine and articulate the program’s primary goals to ensure that relevant data is collected and used.
The CIT Core Elements can be utilized to inform the desired measures and metrics, many of which can be assessed through a simple yes/no response. However, it is also vital that the data collected be secure, accurate, and up to date, and choosing a technology solution is a top priority.
That is where Julota’s software solution can help develop a data collection process. Information is stored in a single, secure location without allowing access to information protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In addition, the data is available in real-time, ensuring that it is accurate and up to date.
Break Down Information Silos with Data Measures for CIT Programs
Data systems used in healthcare, behavioral health, and law enforcement are specialty applications developed independently of one another. Unfortunately, this results in information silos that prevent systems from talking to each other.
The lack of information sharing makes it difficult for CIT programs to access and measure data from each source. Julota’s cloud-based software breaks down those silos, enhancing information exchange and communications between the various entities. As a result, organizations can combine their insights to create a data-driven strategy and produce meaningful outcomes.
Establish a Consistent, Routine Data Collection Process
A consistent, routine data collection process should be established between CIT partnerships regarding what data to collect and the staff responsible for its analysis. Many programs have created the role of a CIT coordinator who is responsible for gathering data from each source and ensuring that it is analyzed and reported to partners and the community.
They play a crucial role in tracking data to measure outcomes. Julota software’s functionality can provide seamless partner communication through data aggregation and reporting. Each CIT program will need to develop a data collection process according to its specific needs. Things to consider include staffing allocations and types of partnerships, among other factors.
Incorporate What is Learned into Program Improvements
Reliable data can help CIT partners identify and develop improvement plans while producing positive outcomes that inform them and the community they serve. In addition, areas can be identified where the data indicates needed improvement or changes.
Data collected from CIT officers can demonstrate the program’s impact on officers’ knowledge, attitudes, skills, and satisfaction. Examining tracked calls can provide information on the program’s impact on safety outcomes, such as the use of force, diversion, and mental health linkages. The CIT Coordinator can see that reports generated through Julota indicating findings and program recommendations can be distributed to CIT partnership leaders.
Here are some examples of ways CIT programs have applied data to measure outcomes and implement changes:
· One CIT program’s mental health partner used data to track and develop patterns of law enforcement activities during busy and slow times. An analysis of the data indicated that staff schedules should be adjusted to ensure that clinical staff was on duty when law enforcement was most likely to need them.
· In Bexar County, Texas, based on data gathered from law enforcement identifying gaps within the behavioral health continuum, the Restoration Center was established. The Center is an integrated clinic for crisis-based mental and substance use disorder screening, assessment, and treatment.
Expand Program Data Collection as Capacity and Skills Grow
As the capacity of the CIT program expands, so should data collection to include additional data points and analyses. From the program’s inception, data collection should be developed in a way that systematically and incrementally builds on the information gathered and produced. SAMHSA’s guide recommends organizing by tiers:
· Tier One: Mission Critical Data – basic, essential data that CIT programs should collect to demonstrate productivity and impacts on the community.
· Tier Two: Intermediate Data – builds on and expands Tier One data to produce a complete picture of the partnership’s results and outcomes.
· Tier Three: Advanced Data – data points and metrics that reflect the comprehensive impact of the entire CIT partnership.
Data Measures for CIT programs for a Successful Crisis Response System
In 2021, the Committee on Psychiatry and the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry published a report entitled “Roadmap to the Ideal Crisis System.” The report provides a comprehensive approach to an ideal crisis system and is essential reading for anyone involved in developing a continuum of care for crisis response.
The report describes a successful crisis system as “an organized set of structures, processes, and services that are in place to meet all the urgent and emergent behavioral health crisis needs of a defined population in a community, as soon as possible and for as long as necessary.” It is a blueprint for communities to use to establish community crisis response.
SAMHSA outlines several critical indicators of a successful crisis response system which include: 1) centralized crisis hotlines, 2) mobile crisis teams, and 3) crisis receiving and stabilization facilities that are available to “anyone, anywhere, anytime.” The use of technology is a vital part of that system. In August 2020, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) distributed a report entitled: “Using Technology to Improve the Delivery of Behavioral Health Crisis Services in the U.S.” The report provides insight into how technology can be used to develop and enhance the three key indicators of an ideal crisis system.
SAMHSA’s Roadmap report also emphasizes collecting performance data to measure program outcomes. Performance measurement data is that which describes the program’s achievements and is an ongoing process.
Pre-selected performance measures can be programmed into Julota’s system, allowing it to produce program evaluation reports that show meaningful outcomes. Performance improvement programs can then be developed to refine individual crisis care and improve program outcomes. In addition, the data collected can be used as tools for identifying gaps, developing remedies, and measuring the impact of those remedies.
Technology’s importance in delivering an ideal crisis system has never been more relevant. The recent global pandemic limited face-to-face interventions, isolated individuals from their natural support systems, and heightened anxiety because of fear and uncertainty. Crisis Intervention Teams across the country are working toward improving mental health responses, helping people in a safe and less restrictive setting as early as possible.
CIT has been referred to as the “Future of Policing.” Rana Meehan, a mental health programs specialist with New York’s state Office of Mental Health, stated, “We want this to be a new way of policing, a new way of law enforcement and mental health working collaboratively together.”
The collection and analysis of reliable data will provide a way to produce and measure meaningful outcomes for Law Enforcement Crisis Intervention Teams. It can be used to make informed decisions and measure and improve the program’s performance. Implementing a data-driven strategy will help programs examine, analyze, and organize their data and solidify CIT’s role in supporting mental health in the community.