Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

William Pelfrey

Second Advisor

Ivan Suen

Third Advisor

Charles Klink

Fourth Advisor

Hayley Cleary


Although a specific program called the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) has been generally recognized as the best-practice model that addresses the needs of the police officers in responding to mental health calls, many jurisdictions across the country have not only adopted the full CIT model but also have taken the liberty of adding new components and/or removing components of the original model in order to create a unique program that fits the needs of their individual community. The issue of differentiated adaptations of the original CIT model has created a controversy around best practice in the area of police response to individuals with mental health issues who are in crisis. Using an on-line survey and interview methods, this study examined a relationship between the degree of variation within specialized policing response models and their corresponding community characteristics. Previous research shows that the components of the original CIT model have positive influence on officers’ confidence in interacting with people with mental illness. Therefore, this study also hypothesized that a rating of an SPR police officers’ job satisfaction was likely to correlate with the degree to which an SPR program adhered to the original CIT model. The study found that mental health resources, extent of presence of special populations in a community, existence of SPR policies in law enforcement, mental health, and dispatch departments, and how much law enforcement and mental health administrators supported the program, all predicted the degree of total deviation of a program from the original CIT model. Population density, related to a distinction between rural and non-rural communities, did not predict the degree of deviation from the original CIT model. The study also found that the degree of deviation of a program from the original CIT model did not strongly predict the rating of SPR officers’ job satisfaction. The study discusses the possible reasons for the results as well as implications for stakeholders who are considering implementation of a Specialized Policing Response model in their communities. Limitations of the current study’s research design are also discussed.


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