Every law enforcement agency faces a unique combination of public safety challenges, such as addressing rising violent crime rates and serving as first responders to people experiencing a mental health crisis or overdose. To respond effectively, law enforcement agencies need to collect, analyze, and utilize data in actionable ways that support strategies to prevent crime and apprehend people who commit crimes. They also need access to the latest research on evidence-based policing practices and the training to implement them.
One way states have helped law enforcement agencies tackle these challenges is through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), which is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts. JRI provides technical assistance to states to analyze data and understand key criminal justice challenges, including violent crime, substance use and mental health disorders, and high recidivism rates; develop policies and practices; and plan budgets accordingly to reduce crime and recidivism, improve responses to behavioral health challenges, and increase public safety.
Nevada: Providing Law Enforcement with Tools and Resources to Better Respond to People with Behavioral Health Needs
Through JRI analysis, Nevada’s Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice (ACAJ) determined that given law enforcement’s role as the first point of contact for people entering the criminal justice system, they needed additional tools and resources to better respond to people with behavioral health needs. ACAJ’s subsequent recommendations were translated into Assembly Bill (AB) 236. Enacted in June 2019, AB 236 requires
- The development of standards for CIT programs to train law enforcement officers to identify signs and symptoms of mental health disorders and provide them with skills to de- escalate situations involving people experiencing a mental health crisis;
- The establishment of a Mental Health Field Response Grant Program to encourage expansion of innovative law enforcement programs;
- Averted costs as a result of AB 236 to be calculated and funding to be prioritized for targeted areas such as behavioral health; and
- The establishment of a JRI local coordinating council that will allow representatives from each county to identify public safety needs and recommend grants for local initiatives, including law enforcement programs.
For more information on how JRI has helped law enforcement in states across the country, see The Justice Reinvestment Initiative Helps Law Enforcement Keep Communities Safe.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-ZB-BX-K001 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
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