Road Runners: The Role and Impact of Law Enforcement in Transporting Individuals with Severe Mental Illness

treatment advocacy center squareFaced with limited community treatment options and a shortage of psychiatric inpatient beds, those in need of mental health treatment may not receive it until a crisis occurs and law enforcement intervenes. Police officers are thus now often on the front lines of psychiatric care, charged with responding to, handling, and even preventing mental illness crisis situations. Although members of law enforcement do not serve as treatment providers for any other illness, they have become “road runners,” traveling long distances to shuttle people with mental illness from one facility to another. This publication from the Treatment Advocacy Center is the first national survey of sheriffs’ offices and police departments on these issues, providing a unique glimpse into the burdens they must shoulder as well as the fiscal and societal implications of the current situation.