California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 29


The next step in police support of those with mental illness

By Lieutenant Dave Klug

Law Enforcement has made significant improvements

in responding to calls involving people who suffer from mental illness . These improvements have primarily focused on reducing violent encounters by ensuring police officers are trained to assess , identify and deescalate situations involving at-risk individuals with mental illness . In support of these improvements , there has been an increase in the adoption of proven mental health programs by law enforcement agencies across the nation . Programs like the Crisis Intervention Training ( CIT ) initiated by the Memphis Police Department in 1987 have grown in popularity and helped provide thousands of police officers with specialized training in differentiating those suffering from mental illness who are not violent from those who are . There are more officers responding to mental health calls with a mental health professional by their side , as part of programs like the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team ( PERT ), allowing for an immediate professional assessment . These programs are , and will continue to be , an important part of law enforcement .
As successful as these programs have been , what is the next evolution for law enforcement involvement in supporting the mentally ill in our community ? What more can we do to proactively reduce the number of people from entering a crisis state and , how can we best serve those in our community suffering from mental illness ? The Irvine Model was created with these questions in mind . We determined that the following were common factors for nearly every mental health detention .
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