The Fairfax County Police Department now has two full-time psychologists and a team of clinicians on staff, so officers don’t have to pay out of pocket for treatment.
Law Enforcement Media Clips
As the new year kicks off, so does the design for Burien’s version of Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), a program that brings police, prosecutors and case managers together to move nonviolent, low-level offenders away from the criminal justice system and toward stability.
Despite major legal and policy developments on behalf of crime victims since the landmark passage of the Victims of Crime Act in 1984, U.S. federal data collection efforts illustrate that significant gaps in access to and use of services persist for the majority of people touched by crime—including law enforcement–based victim assistance.
“Every act of violence is precipitated by another act of violence,” said Hasshan Batts, the director of operations for Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley. “So if someone is a survivor of a violent act, we would like to talk to them. We want to have crisis workers available 24-7.”
“They are people too, and some feel that they don’t belong,” police officer Gina Bell said simply before leaving the office dressed in her brown shirt and green pants, which designate the Homeless Outreach Street Team from regular patrol staff who are dressed in traditional blue. “It breaks my heart since we are trying to help them.”
Crisis-intervention training teaches officers to recognize symptoms of mental illness while conditioning them to decelerate their approach to someone in distress. Common tactics involve remaining at a distance to avoid startling or riling the person, attempting to persuade instead of demanding compliance, and posing open-ended questions to nurture conversation.
Police are being taught to use requests and explanations rather than commands to persuade subjects to comply. An officer might explain that he needs a driver to step out of the car so that he can see the driver doesn’t have a weapon, rather than ordering him to do so.
“Rural areas, which traditionally have had lower crime rates, have seen dramatic increases in incarceration rates,” says Jacob Kang-Brown, a senior research associate with the Vera Institute of Justice. “We see them now having the highest incarceration rates in the country.”
The implementation of gender awareness trainings—now part of the curriculum for all new employees—was just one step in a series of policy changes made by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department to address how transgender, gender-variant, and non-binary (TGN) people are arrested and housed at the local county jail.
Recently, the Westminster Police Department became the first in the state to meet the requirements among the seven agencies that have taken the pledge. Chief of Police Jeff Spaulding told us it was important Westminster be part of the campaign because “of the prevalence of these calls in the city and the need to ensure that officers are handling them in a safe and effective manner which optimizes the potential of a positive outcome for everyone involved.”
In a recent press release, Poughkeepsie’s police chief said that since more foot patrols like the Behavioral Evaluation and Assistance Team have been added, the department is receiving fewer calls for service, and departments in neighboring communities are seeking out grants to start similar programs.
The St. Paul Police Department says their new mental health unit is dedicated to connecting people with community resources and reducing escalations that could result in use of deadly force.
The Arlington Police Department has been acknowledged for its compassionate approach to facing a mental health crisis and the One Mind Campaign is setting the standard for police response.
In the past year the department has trained nearly all its officers to handle a mental health crisis and as a result, the department says its use of force and officer-involved shootings are down exponentially over the past 15 months.
Iowa leads the nation in the number of counties who have signed the Stepping Up agreement, pledging to reduce the number of arrests and incarcerations of people with serious mental illness.
Before the Colorado Springs Police Department started its Community Response Team to better assist residents dealing with mental health issues, one woman was calling 911 about 300 times a year.
The Gallia, Jackson, and Meigs Sheriff’s Offices in collaboration with Hopewell Health Centers have been selected to participate in the National Mental Health-Law Enforcement Learning Site Program through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and The Council of State Governments Justice Center.
Post-trauma treatment programs hold promise for officers that have been exposed to critical incidents, deaths, and other stressors. As one example, the Franciscan Center Post-Trauma Education and Retreat Program served Tampa Police Department officers, who later reported positively on its impact on their healing process.
Established in June, the Public Safety Partnership is a DOJ-wide program that enables cities to consult with and receive coordinated training and technical assistance and an array of resources to enhance local violence-reduction strategies.
Under the leadership of Chief Michael Sauschuck, the Portland Police Department created a Behavioral Health Response Program that, among other innovations employs a full-time clinical social worker as a behavioral health coordinator and retains master’s-level interns from the University of Southern Maine’s clinical counseling program.