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On-Scene Mental Health Services: Establishing a Crisis Team

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 78 Issue: 9 Dated: September 2009 Pages: 6-11
Andrew T. Young Ed.D.; Neil Brumley M.S.
Date Published
September 2009
6 pages
This article reports on the findings of a survey that measured police officers' and victims' assessments of a program in Lubbock, TX, in which volunteer mental health professionals respond to calls with police officers in order to offer on-scene crisis counseling to victims.
Based on a survey of police officers and victims involved in the program, as well as an examination of program goals and use statistics, the assessment concluded that the volunteer counselors provided needed assistance to victims, stabilized volatile situations, and provided referral information to victims; however, the goal of reducing the incidence of repeat domestic abuse calls could not be measured with the data provided. A key program goal that was achieved by the crisis-counseling program was freeing police officers at the scene to perform duties for which they had been trained. The authors recommend additional research on the reliability and validity of the measures used in obtaining data from officers and victims, as well as attention to the work of the volunteer counselors, particularly differences in what they do at the scene. The Lubbock Police Department's Crisis Team program began in July 2000, with the primary goals of resolving domestic disputes, especially in cases where officers have been repeatedly called to the home. The program aimed to reduce the incidence of domestic violence, free officers to perform duties for which they had been trained, provide support for victims, stabilize volatile situations, and provide referral information. Over time, the team responded to a wider variety of crises that included sexual assaults, suicide intervention, traffic fatalities, grief support, and homicides. Mental health professionals were recruited from the community. Out of the 61 volunteers over the life of the program, the majority had a bachelor's degree in a mental health field.