Responding to Persons with Mental Illness and/or Emotional Distress: An Evaluation of the Prince William County Police Department Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program

Publication Date

October 2018


Frank Straub, Melissa Reuland, Blake Norton, and Ben Gorban


In 2011, Prince William County Police Department (PWCPD) participated in establishing a countywide Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program, and has continued to enhance the program since then. The PWCPD Chief requested that the Police Foundation (PF) conduct an examination of the full range of CIT training, policies, and practices that guide officers in responding to persons challenged by mental illness and/or who are in crisis, and to provide the command staff with findings and recommendations to support the implementation of best practices and continued enhancement of the CIT program. The PF evaluation team used three data collection methods: onsite interviews and focus groups, review of PWCPD’s resource materials, and review of professional and academic resource materials. Using this information, the PF team conducted a gap analysis to identify key areas to develop a set of findings and suggestions. The analysis yielded 4 main findings, and offered suggestions for improvement on each finding: PWCPD’s implementation of the CIT core elements was thorough and high quality; with the transfer of command-level staff, some members of the police-mental health collaboration have experienced communication gaps; PWCPD has not routinely used the data it collects to inform changes in its CIT policies and procedures; and law enforcement agencies in Virginia, including PWCPD, are burdened by the state’s requirements for the treatment of people with mental illness or who are in crisis. Overall, the PF evaluation team found that PWCPD has a strong CIT program, and implementing this evaluation’s suggestions will help further enhance the program.

Research Design

Non-experimental, Review of research

Research Methods

Interviews, Literature review, Focus groups

Recommended Citation

Straub, F., Reuland, M., Norton, B., Gorban, B. (2018). Responding to persons with mental illness and/or emotional distress: An evaluation of the Prince William County Police Department crisis intervention team (CIT) program. Police Foundation.