October 2015  

 
Crisis Intervention Response Team

Harris County and The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (formerly MHMRA) joined forces in 2011 to create a joint Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT). This agreement allowed the Harris County Sheriff's Office and MHMRA to combine resources in an effort to meet the needs of the mental health community throughout Harris County. It established a cooperative task force approach to crisis calls for police services.

There are 12 CIRT teams that pair a deputy sheriff and a licensed clinician from The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD together in a patrol vehicle. These teams respond to law-enforcement events in which mental illness or a mental crisis may be involved. With the help of the clinician, these deputies can often diffuse a situation before any criminal activity occurs. When a CIRT team arrives at a scene, the initial patrol responders are able to transfer the scene and the suspect to CIRT and return to their patrol responsibilities faster.

CIRT personnel are trained in the preliminary mental health evaluation of individuals in crisis, and, if necessary, in the application of the "emergency detention order" commitment process. This results in numerous jail diversions in which mentally ill individuals engaging in crime can be diverted from jail and placed in an emergency mental health facility for psychological evaluation and stabilization. Harris County saves money by providing these individuals with treatment, rather than incarcerating them, since the cost of treatment is significantly less than the costs incurred by the jail and the criminal justice system. More importantly, these individuals are able to return to a productive life without the stigma of a criminal conviction.

If you or someone you know has an emergency involving a mental health crisis, call 9-1-1 and ask for a CIRT unit to respond.

Important numbers:
Emergency
Dial 9-1-1

The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD Helpline
713-970-7000

The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD Neuropsychiatric Center
713-970-4600

Harris County Psychiatric Center
713-741-5000
Suicide Hotline
1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
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