EAST PEORIA, Illinois – The University of Illinois Police Department has been recognized as the top department in the state for responding to mental health-related emergencies.
At its annual Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) conference in June, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB) presented U. of I. Police Chief Alice Cary with the 2023 award for CIT Department of the Year.
The award comes as UIPD’s Response, Evaluation and Crisis Help (REACH) initiative has been active for about two years now, with hundreds of campus community members served.
REACH is a true co-responder model, with Crisis Responders and Police Officers patrolling together as a single unit and available to respond to emergency calls. UIPD also deploys Therapy K9s on patrol and during outreach events.
Years ago, the department was one of the first in the area to work toward providing all officers with CIT training, which promotes recognition and response techniques for mental health challenges so officers are better at recognizing when someone is experiencing a crisis and in speaking to them to de-escalate or resolve that crisis.
“CIT is at the core of the REACH model,” Cary said. “The REACH team takes it one step further, where CIT training forms the basis for how police officers respond to mental health emergencies, and social work professionals provide assessments and follow-up connections to resources.”
ILETSB is the state agency mandated to promote and maintain a high level of professional standards for law enforcement and correctional officers. The CIT group trains police officers in crisis intervention throughout the state of Illinois.
“To be recognized by ILETSB’s CIT group speaks to the professionalism of our officers and crisis responders and their commitment to being the best at what they do,” Cary said. “We’re of course honored, and the award is a milestone that lets us know we’re on the right track to enhancing the safety and wellness of our students and community members.”