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National Center for Campus Public Safety
 

Law Enforcement Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice

Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 2009

Interactions between officers and individuals with mental illnesses are infrequent and can be complex in nature.  These calls for service are often time-consuming and difficult to resolve, and, on relatively rare occasions, result in tragic injuries or deaths.  Such cases typically involve repeat contacts with the same individuals, who live in the community with unresolved mental health needs.  Law enforcement–based specialized response programs have been shown to improve officer safety; increase access to mental health treatments, supports, and services; decrease the frequency of these individuals’ encounters with the criminal justice system; and reduce certain costs incurred by law enforcement agencies.  To ensure law enforcement policies and practices related to people with mental illnesses are data driven and well-informed, this guide summarizes the available research on law enforcement encounters with people with mental illnesses and strategies to improve these interactions.

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