Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today that Sheriff’s 9-1-1 Center dispatchers are now required to have Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training and now have access to a program that allows callers to provide additional information – including mental health statuses – about themselves and their families when they call 911.
CIT training is the foundation of advanced mental health training for American law enforcement. With continuing cuts to mental health services nationwide and an ongoing uptick in rates of untreated mental illness, the need for this type of de-escalation training has never been more apparent. Sheriff Dart will provide his perspective on this national crisis and expand on his mental health strategy later this morning when he gives the keynote address at CIT International, a conference bringing 1,000 police officers from across the nation to Chicago. His keynote will take place at 8:30 a.m. at the Downtown Hilton (720 S. Michigan Ave.).
Approximately 85 percent of Sheriff’s Police officers have received CIT training – far beyond the national average for police departments. Sheriff Dart will now also require Sheriff’s Police 911 dispatchers to take part in 16 hours of crisis intervention training which includes training on call taking from or about individuals with special needs. All 52 dispatchers are scheduled to complete this targeted CIT training course by the end of this summer. This is in addition to ongoing training dispatchers receive.
Sheriff Dart also announced today that the Sheriff’s 911 Center has access to Smart 911. The program allows residents to create safety profiles connected to a phone number, including cell phone numbers. Information residents choose to include in their profile will instantaneously appear on Sheriff’s Police dispatcher’s computer screen when 911 is dialed from that number.
Often times in an emergency it is difficult for callers to give information. A profile could get that critical information to a dispatcher quickly in a situation where every second counts.
- Information that could be included in a safety profile
- Home and work addresses
- Medical and mental health conditions
- Vehicle information
- Children information and photos
- Pet information
- Information about residents at home with special needs
The technology is particularly valuable in addressing community mental health crises. For example, for parents raising a child who struggles with mental illness and occasionally stops taking medication, inputting that information with Smart 911 would ensure that it automatically registers for Sheriff’s Police dispatchers if a 911 call ever comes from that address, ensuring that specialized CIT officers are sent to the scene to de-escalate the situation.
911 wireless calls made up approximately 88 percent of the total emergency calls Sheriff’s Police dispatchers received in 2015. Cell phones do not give a caller’s exact location. With a Smart 911 profile, however, personal, home and vehicle information could be connected to a cell phone number, which could be used to help first responders locate a caller during an emergency.
What information to provide in a profile is up to each individual. Profiles are only seen by dispatchers if 911 is dialed from a phone that has an associated profile. Profile information is not kept with Sheriff’s Police nor is its information searchable by Sheriff’s Police personnel.
The profiles will also display if an associated phone number calls 9-1-1 in another jurisdiction that supports Smart911. Smart911 is available in 40 states and in more than 1,500 municipalities nationwide, including DuPage County.
Sheriff Dart urges everyone who lives, works or travels through Cook County to create a safety profile at www.smart911.com.