There is no one-size-fits-all approach for law enforcement responses to people with mental illnesses, says a new guide from the Council of State Governments Justice Center. A growing number of communities are using Specialized Policing Responses that are designed to improve outcomes for everyone involved in these incidents. Although there are many common elements in the response plans, there are important differences across jurisdictions that should be reflected in the design of any law enforcement-mental health initiative.
Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: Tailoring Law Enforcement Initiatives to Individual Jurisdictions is supported by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance and was conducted in partnership with the Police Executive Research Forum. It explores the design process for a variety of models, including crisis intervention teams, law enforcement/mental health co-response teams, and case management approaches-that take into account such factors as jurisdiction size, demographics, mental health and law enforcement agency resources, and relevant state laws. It also considers how the design may vary depending on the type of problem that jurisdictions most want to address. Detailed lessons learned are included from four places: Akron, Oh., Fort Wayne, In., Los Angeles, and New River Valley, Va.