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Police Response to Mental Health Emergencies: Barriers to Change

NCJ Number
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Volume: 28 Issue: 3 Dated: 2000 Pages: 338-344
Randolph Dupont Ph.D.; Sam Cochran M.S.
Date Published
7 pages
This article explores barriers to change in the way police respond to mental health emergencies.
The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model of police-based intervention with behavioral crises grew out of a community response to a shooting event resulting in the death of an individual with a history of mental illness and substance abuse. It focused on the need for advanced training and specialization for patrol officers, immediacy of the crisis response, emphasis on officer and citizen safety and proper referral for those in crisis. CIT has positively influenced officer perceptions, decreased the need for higher levels of police intervention, decreased officer injuries and redirected those in crisis from the criminal justice to the heath care system. A prerequisite to successful implementation of a CIT program is a willingness to challenge traditional police training and operations. It also requires the ability to respond to complex behaviors on the individual level that is the best part of good mental health care. The article claims that overcoming these obstacles can result in a genuine community partnership of advocates, law enforcement, and mental health professionals. References