Law Enforcement Responses

Highlighted Resource

Law Enforcement Mental Health Learning Sites

Produced By: Council of State Governments Justice Center

Supported By: Bureau of Justice Assistance

Description: This webpage describes the Law Enforcement Mental Health Learning Sites, lists the different learning sites, and answers frequently asked questions. 

Keywords: law enforcement mental health learning sites

Model Policy: Responding to Persons Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis (2018)

Produced By: International Association of Chiefs of Police

Description: The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to law enforcement officers when responding to or encountering persons experiencing a mental health crisis. It provides relevant definitions and procedures. 

Keywords: law enforcement response to crisis calls

Cops, Clinicians, or Both? Collaborative Approaches to Responding to Behavioral Health Emergencies (2020)

Produced By: National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors

Supported By: Center for Mental Health Services/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Description: This resource reviews best practices for law enforcement crisis response, outlines the different components of a comprehensive crisis continuum, alternatives to law enforcement involvement and ED use, and provides strategies for collaboration. It also discusses policy considerations related to legal statutes, funding, data management, and stakeholder engagement. 

Keywords: Crisis Intervention Team (CIT); crisis call centers; mobile crisis teams; co-responder teams; funding; data sharing

Other Resources

Directory

I. Overview

II. Case Studies

III. Sample Procedures and Forms

I. Overview

Need to Know: Responding to Persons Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis (2018)

Produced By: International Association of Chiefs of Police

Description: This resource is a brief fact sheet about mental health crises and the role of law enforcement.

Keywords: mental health crisis; law enforcement

Responding to Persons Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis

Produced By: International Association of Chiefs of Police

Description: This resource provides police agencies with concrete guidance and directives by describing in sequential format the manner in which actions, tasks, and operations are to be performed. It also includes a concept & issues section, as well as a one-pager with brief facts.

Keywords: Disabilities; law enforcement responses; mental health crisis; alternatives to arrest

PMHC Self-Assessment Tool 

Produced By: Council of State Governments Justice Center

Supported By: Bureau of Justice Assistance

Description: The PMHC Self-Assessment tool helps law enforcement agencies and their behavioral health partners assess their progress toward implementing high quality partnership-based interventions. This tool is designed to provide resources to help improve responses to calls for service for people with mental health conditions and/or co-occurring substance use disorders. The tool walks agencies through a series of questions to assess the status of their current response efforts. Their responses will generate a unique action plan that directs them to resources designed to help strengthen their initiatives. This tool is also set up to assist jurisdictions who may be at varying stages of implementation—from communities in the start-up stage, to those with advanced, evidence-based interventions.

Keywords: self-assessment; collaboration; law enforcement responses

Using the Web-Based Self Assessment Tool and Technical Assistance Centers to Improve Police and Community Responses to People with Behavioral Health Needs (2021) - Webinar

Produced By: Council for State Governments Justice Center

Supported By: Bureau of Justice Assistance

Description: A growing concern across the U.S. is how jurisdictions can improve their police and community responses to people with behavioral health needs. While some jurisdictions have established partnerships between their police departments and behavioral health system counterparts, many still struggle to effectively develop cross-system responses that can benefit the people impacted most by these systems. This webinar focuses on three resources that can be used to support these efforts through direct assistance, web-based tools, and trainings: (1) the Police Mental Health Self-Assessment Tool, (2) the Justice and Mental Health Partnership Support Center, and (3) the Law Enforcement-Mental Health Collaboration Support Center developed by The Council of State Government Justice Center, with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, each of these resources are intended to support communities seeking to improve their police and other responses to people with behavioral health needs. This webinar walks through the benefits of each resource, how they can be accessed, and ways that communities can use them to request further support.

Keywords: law enforcement response to crisis calls

Law Enforcement Are Critical Stakeholders in Behavioral Health Crisis Services (2019)

Produced By: Crisis Talk
Description: This article describes the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) developed in Memphis, the need for a location for drop-offs with a no-refusal policy, and mobile crisis teams. 

Keywords: Crisis Intervention Team (CIT); mobile crisis teams

Police Management of Mental Health Crises in the Community (2019)

Produced By: Global Law Enforcement & Public Health Association Inc. (GLEPHA); RMIT University
Description: This guideline aims to improve the outcomes of situations where police respond to people who are experiencing mental health crises in the community. This guideline focuses on: i) enhancing police responses to managing mental health crises, and ii) improving partnerships with people with lived and living experience of mental health issues and community mental health services. Although this guideline’s focus is on the police management of mental health crises, it is imperative to emphasize the need for the public MHS to: i) improve mental health promotion and early intervention to prevent and decrease the occurrence of mental health crises, ii) develop alternatives to police involvement when mental health crises do occur, and iii) enable appropriate and timely follow-up care and treatment for people who experience mental health crises in the community.

Keywords: mental health; crises; police management

Sheriffs Addressing the Mental Health Crisis in the Community and in the Jails (2019)

Produced By: Major County Sheriffs of America

Supported By: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

Description: Law enforcement has increasingly become the primary point of contact for individuals living with mental illness, and the presence of these individuals in jail and prison populations has grown to crisis proportions. This report - developed by the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA) in partnership with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) - identifies innovative practices that have proven successful in reducing the arrest and incarceration of individuals living with mental illness in jurisdictions across the country. The programs have shown promise in several areas: diverting those who live with mental illness away from the criminal justice system, supporting individuals in the court system, identifying and treating those who have been incarcerated, and helping individuals successfully re-enter their communities after discharge. The report includes case studies of seven jurisdictions and resources developed by law enforcement executives and experts in the field.

Keywords: mental illness; Crisis Intervention Team (CIT); jails; case studies

How Small Law Enforcement Agencies Respond to Calls Involving Persons in Crisis: Results from a National Survey (2021)

Produced By: National Police Foundation

Description: This report presents findings from a survey of how small law enforcement agencies respond to incidents involving persons in crisis as a result of mental health or substance abuse issues. It is based on responses of a random sample of 380 municipal police and sheriff offices with between 10 and 75 sworn officers between February and October 2020. The survey finds that all but twelve responding agencies had adopted some form of specialized response model for dealing with calls involving persons in crisis. More than six in ten agencies has provided some form of crisis response training to all patrol officers, and three in ten provided training to some patrol officers. Three in ten agencies had at least one officer in the agency who had been CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) certified and half of the agencies reported being part of a regional CIT partnership. death of George Floyd, which occurred during the administration of the survey, encouraged four in ten survey respondents to reassess their current approach to dealing with persons in crisis.

Keywords: small agencies; calls for service; crisis response; mental health; behavioral health; substance use

The Law Enforcement Response to Persons with Mental Disorders: A Policy Writing Guide (2017)

Produced By: Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards

Description: This resource provides recommendations for writing departmental policies and procedures for law enforcement officers responding to persons with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities. It includes suggested templates and examples.

Keywords: Policy; law enforcement response to crisis calls

Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: The Essential Elements of a Specialized Law Enforcement-Based Program (2008)

Produced By: Council of State Governments Justice Center

Supported By: Bureau of Justice Assistance

Description: This publication articulates 10 essential elements for specialized law enforcement-based response programs in interacting with people with mental health conditions and provides a common framework for program design and implementation that will promote positive outcomes while being sensitive to every jurisdiction’s distinct needs and resources.  

Keywords: Crisis Intervention Team (CIT); co-responder team; law enforcement

Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: Tailoring Law Enforcement Initiatives to Individual Jurisdiction (2010)

Produced By: Council of State Governments Justice Center

Supported By: Bureau of Justice Assistance

Description: This resource explores the program design process, including detailed examples from several communities from across the country. It is meant to assist initiative leaders and agents of change who want to select or adapt program features from models that will be most effective in their communities. 

Keywords: Crisis Intervention Team (CIT); co-responder team; law enforcement

Law Enforcement Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice (2009)

Produced By: Council of State Governments Justice Center

Supported By: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Description: This publication examines studies on law enforcement interactions with people with mental health conditions and translates the findings to help policymakers and practitioners develop safe and effective interventions. It reviews research on the scope and nature of the problem and on a range of law enforcement responses.

Keywords: Crisis Intervention Team (CIT); co-responder team; law enforcement

Statewide Law Enforcement/Mental Health Efforts: Strategies to Support and Sustain Local Initiatives (2012)

Produced By: Council of State Governments Justice Center

Supported By: Bureau of Justice Assistance

Description: This resource examines how states have developed structures and standards to make police encounters with people with mental health conditions safer for all involved and to produce better mental health and criminal justice system outcomes. The report offers a starting point for policymakers, practitioners, and others interested in planning or enhancing a statewide initiative that will support local-level specialized policing responses (SPRs) such as crisis intervention and law enforcement/mental health co-response teams.

Keywords: Crisis Intervention Team (CIT); co-responder team; law enforcement

Legal Issues in Crisis Services (2020)

Produced By: National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors

Supported By: Center for Mental Health Services/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Description: This resource discusses civil commitment treatment orders, the role of guardians, restraint and seclusion, confidentiality, the criminal justice system and the role of law enforcement, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), red flag laws, risk management and how these topics related to crisis services. It also discusses COVID-19 and its potential implications for legal issues related to crisis services. 

Keywords: legal; COVID-19; liability; confidentiality; Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)

IACP's Suicide Wallet Card (2018)

Produced By: International Association of Chiefs of Police

Description: This resource is a wallet card that provides suicide risk factors, a place to put emergency telephone numbers, and procedures/things to do when interacting with an individual who is contemplating suicide. 

Keywords: suicide; law enforcement responses

The Role of Law Enforcement Officers in Preventing Suicide (2013)

Produced By: Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Supported By: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Description: The purpose of this sheet is to help law enforcement officers learn how to identify and respond to people they serve who are contemplating suicide or have attempted suicide. Although the focus is not on suicide among officers, the Resources section of this sheet contains a number of items addressing that important issue. 

Keywords: suicide; law enforcement responses

Preventing Suicide: A Resource for Police, Firefighters and Other First Line Responders (2009)

Produced By: World Health Organization

Description: This booklet is written for police officers, firefighters and other first line responders who deal with people in psychological distress, including those who are contemplating suicide. Topics include mental illness, risk and protective factors, lethal means restriction, referral procedures and managing stress. The booklet places suicide in the broader context of community mental health and identifies a number of principles and key activities that can be used as part of a broader community-based suicide prevention strategy. 

Keywords: suicide; first responders

People with Mental Illness (2006)

Produced By: Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Supported By: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

Description: This guide begins by describing the problem and reviewing factors that increase the challenges that police face in relation to individuals with mental health conditions. It then identifies a series of questions that might help you analyze your local policing problems associated with people with mental illness. Finally, it reviews responses to the problems and what we know about these from evaluative research and police practice.

Keywords: law enforcement response to crisis calls

Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters (2015)

Produced By: Treatment Advocacy Center

Description: Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters surveys the status of law enforcement homicide reporting, examines the demonstrable role of mental illness in the use of deadly force by law enforcement and recommends practical approaches to reducing fatal police shootings and the many social costs associated with them.

Keywords: fatal law enforcement encounters; mental illness

Road Runners: The Role and Impact of Law Enforcement in Transporting Individuals with Severe Mental Illness (2019)

Produced By: Treatment Advocacy Center in partnership with the National Sheriffs' Association and the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police 

Supported By: Achelis and Bodman Foundation
Description: Road Runners is the first-ever national survey of sheriffs’ offices and police departments on these issues, and it provides a unique glimpse into the burdens they must shoulder as well as the fiscal and societal implications of the current situation. The survey responses represent 355 sheriffs' offices and police departments in the United States.

Keywords: mental health; transportation; psychiatric crisis response; law enforcement responses

Resources for Law Enforcement (2021)

Produced By: Council of State Governments Justice Center

Supported By: Bureau of Justice Assistance
Description: This brief offers a repository of publications and technical assistance tools created by the CSG Justice Center with funding support from BJA’s Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. 

Keywords: resources; law enforcement

Serving Safely: The National Initiative to Enhance Policing for Persons with Mental Illnesses and Developmental Disabilities (2019)

Produced By: Vera Institute of Justice

Supported By: Bureau of Justice Assistance

Description: This resource provides an overview of the Serving Safely Initiative through the Vera Institute, including their mission and how to request resources from the initiative. 

Keywords: Mental Health, Disabilities

Reimagining Policing: How State and Local Governments Can Work Together to Create Better, Safer Communities (2020)

Produced By: National League of Cities

Description: This report provides information on various topics in policing, including approaches to policing (e.g., police misconduct data, body camera usage, and use of force policy), roadblocks to reimagining policing (e.g., police union collective bargaining and funding streams), and innovation in policing (e.g., civilian oversight boards, community policing, and alternative responses). Community examples and case studies are discussed throughout the report. 

Keywords: Reimagining policing; alternative responses; community policing

II. Case Studies

Rapid City, South Dakota: Quality of Life Unit Supports High-Need Individuals

Produced By: National League of Cities

Supported By: Arnold Ventures

Description: To help provide sustainable solutions for the city and these individuals, Rapid City Police Department (RCPD) invested in a special unit designed to help these individuals engage with a number of helpful resources and supports, remove barriers to care and services and help these individuals achieve success, however they define it, as well as reduce police calls and related costs. This case study will focus on the RCPD Quality of Life Unit and present key takeaways for other cities and counties considering similar cross-systems approaches.

Keywords: mental health; behavioral health; collaboration; dispatch; law enforcement responses

San Antonio, Texas: Addressing Mental Health Crises with a Specialized Mental Health Detail Embedded in the Police Department

Produced By: National League of Cities

Supported By: Arnold Ventures

Description: San Antonio has developed a number of innovative programs that target the challenges of substance use disorders, homelessness, and mental health issues. This case study focuses on the Mental Health Detail (MHD) and presents key takeaways for other cities considering similar cross-systems approaches.

Keywords: Crisis intervention Team (CIT) training; crisis response; law enforcement responses

III. Sample Procedures and Forms

Los Angeles, California Police Department’s Field Checklist, Referrals, and Relevant Information for Incidents Involving Persons Suspected of Suffering from Mental Illness (2016)

Produced By: Los Angeles Police Department

Description: This resource is from the Los Angeles Police Department and it summarizes general guidelines when dealing with a person suspected of a mental illness.

Keywords: law enforcement responses

Tucson Police Department Mental Health Support Team General Operations Pamphlet (2017)

Produced By: Tucson Police Department

Description: This resource is the operations manual for the Tucson Police Department Mental Health Support Team. 

Keywords: law enforcement responses

Rockingham County, Virginia’s Transfer of Custody Form (2015)

Produced By: Rockingham-Harrisonburg MCU

Description: This resource is a transfer of custody form from Rockingham County (VA). 

Keywords: crisis response; transfer of custody; law enforcement responses

Case Assessment Management Program (2018)

Produced By: Los Angeles Police Department

Description: This resource is a sample referral form used by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Case Assessment Management Program (CAMP), including intake criteria. 

Keywords: Case management, referral form template