Newsweek interviews Los Angeles Police Lt. Rick Wall, who heads the crisis response team that handles mental illness issues, about procedures used to hospitalize Britney Spears and many othe California residents. Los Angeles has about 20 “SMART teams,” with a police officer paired with a doctor, nurse, or licensed clinical social worker from the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health, who ride out to investigate when police get a call about a mental health problem. There are about 100 such calls a day.
Of those 100 calls, says Wall, police place 20 to 25 persons a day on involuntary holds. Family members contact authorities, the police respond, an assessment is conducted, and the patient is transported to the hospital. Five other celebrities were placed on mental-illness holds last year in Los Angeles. Says Wall: “I guarantee, you’ve never heard of any of [those cases]. If we do our job right, no one ever knows about it, because we work very hard to protect the patient’s right to confidentiality. If we do our job right, we get in there, we meet with a family member, we get the person, we transport them, and no one is the wiser.”