U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Serving Safely: The National Initiative To Enhance Policing for Persons With Mental Illnesses and Developmental Disabilities

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2018
2 pages

This Fact Sheet briefly describes the resources provided by a national project called Serving Safely, which was established by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in partnership with the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) to assist law enforcement agencies in responding effectively and safely in calls for service that involve interactions with persons who have mental illnesses or developmental disabilities.


Drawing on just over 55 years of experience in collaborating with policing partners, Vera assembled a multidisciplinary project team composed of leaders in the fields of policing, mental illness, intellectual and developmental disability, crisis intervention, peer advocacy, prosecution, emergency medicine, and technology development. This team developed and launched Serving Safely to assist law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies through a four-pronged mission. One prong of the mission is to provide training and technical assistance directly to law enforcement personnel and other criminal justice and community service personnel in developing effective and safe responses to persons with mental illness or developmental disabilities. A second objective of Serving Safely is to develop and facilitate collaborative responses to people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities who come into contact with police, other criminal justice personnel, and community service professionals and volunteers. A third aspect of Serving Safely's mission is to build a national community of practice for police responses to people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. The fourth prong of Serving Safely's mission is to contribute to and expand access to information on best practices, policies, research, and resources that pertain to safe and effective interactions with and management of persons with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities.