LPSO launches crisis intervention team initiative

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) is taking its services a step further with the recent formation of a crisis intervention team.

The new initiative, funded through a nearly $290,000 federal grant, includes the addition of two crisis intervention specialists to the Sheriff’s Office work force, along with specialized training in de-escalation and crisis intervention for current employees.

A crisis intervention team program is an innovative, community-based approach to improve the outcomes of encounters between law enforcement and individuals in crisis. Diversion programs like crisis intervention teams are effective in reducing the number of arrests of individuals with mental illness, while simultaneously increasing the likelihood that those individuals will receive initial and continued mental health services.

Historically, nearly 10% of LPSO’s calls for service are related to behavioral health. Additionally, upwards of 30% of individuals incarcerated at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center have screened positively for severe mental illness.

The new pair of specially trained employees will be part of a co-response model, and will be at the ready to respond alongside LPSO deputies to calls for service involving individuals in crisis.

Whether it be mental health or substance abuse-related, the team is equipped to provide onsite de-escalation and intervention techniques to individuals in crisis. More importantly, the CIT Members will be able to provide critical resources to the individual which deputies typically cannot offer.

While law enforcement will maintain primary responsibility of the scene, supplementing their response with the CIT Member could allow for swift de-escalation, screening and planning. The new team will also help serve as a point of contact for cases involving involuntary commitment for evaluation. A goal of the Crisis Intervention Team is to reduce law enforcement responses to individuals in crisis.

At LPSO, the CIT Members will be part of the team. Attending briefings, specialized training and the like will be built into the CIT Members scope of employment.

The crisis intervention team program aims to bridge together mental health professionals and law enforcement more seamlessly and effectively. Another intended outcome of the endeavor is a reduction in on-scene deputy injuries by 10%.

Data related to cases involving the crisis intervention team will be documented to track the performance of the program as well as to provide insights on future adjustments and/or additions to its functions.