Law Enforcement Mental Health Learning Sites

Police-mental health collaboration (PMHC) programs support law enforcement agencies around the country in planning and implementing effective public safety responses to people who have mental illnesses.

Jurisdictions around the country are exploring strategies to improve the outcomes of encounters between law enforcement and people who have mental health needs. As a growing number of communities develop or enhance their comprehensive police-mental health collaborations (PMHCs), many agencies are struggling with the planning process and how to tailor successful implementation strategies and response models (e.g., co-response teams, CIT programs, mobile crisis teams) from other jurisdictions to address their own distinct problems and circumstances.

In an effort to expand the knowledge base for law enforcement agencies interested in starting or enhancing a PMHC, The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, with assistance from a team of national experts and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), selected nine law enforcement agencies to serve as national Law Enforcement-Mental Health Learning Sites. These learning sites represent a diverse cross-section of perspectives and program examples and are dedicated to helping other jurisdictions improve their responses to people who have mental health needs. The original six learning sites, selected in 2010, are Houston (TX) Police Department, Los Angeles (CA) Police Department, Madison (WI) Police Department, Portland (ME) Police Department, Salt Lake City (UT) Police Department, and University of Florida Police Department. Due to the success of the program, three additional sites now include the Arlington (MA) Police Department, Madison County (TN) Sheriff’s Office, and Tucson (AZ) Police Department.

As centers of peer-to-peer learning and support, learning site personnel are committed to providing guidance to agencies in other jurisdictions that are interested in creating or expanding their own PMHC response models as part of their collaborations with community behavioral health agencies.

The learning site project creates a forum for policing officials to learn from one another how to adapt responses to people with mental illnesses, ensuring officers are better able to connect them to needed services, while increasing public safety, reducing arrests, and saving vital agency resources.
Michael Sauschuck, Chief
Portland Police Department


What kinds of technical assistance (TA) do the learning sites provide?

The Law Enforcement-Mental Health Learning Sites offer various levels of TA to law enforcement officials and mental health professionals interested in planning or improving their police-mental health collaborations to improve responses to people with mental health needs.

Learning sites can provide peer support services through:

  • E-mail exchanges to provide guidance and resources
  • Conference calls on complex issues and strategic planning assistance
  • Hosting agency visits or providing on-site assistance
What are the areas of specialization for each of the learning sites?

The Law Enforcement-Mental Health Learning Sites offer a wide range of expertise related to various law enforcement-mental health collaborations involving crisis intervention training, co-responder models with follow-up teams, comprehensive dispatcher training, embedded mental health professionals, and police officers trained as mental health liaisons. For information on areas of expertise, please click on the individual learning sites for descriptions.

If I already know which learning site I want to work with, can I contact it directly?

You are welcome to make direct contact with the learning site(s) of your choice. We do ask that you provide notice of your request for TA to [email protected]. This will allow us to track more effectively the requests for Learning Sites technical assistance.

Will there be a cost associated with receiving TA from a learning site?

Technical assistance is provided to law enforcement agencies at no cost in an effort to assist with the development or implementation of PMHCs. The only potential associated cost is for travel, if the technical assistance provided includes a site visit or other in-person assistance. Supplemental funds may occasionally be made available on a case-by-case basis.

What is the relationship between CSG Justice Center and the learning sites?

The CSG Justice Center manages and provides staff support to the learning sites project and develops resources that can be tailored to the distinct needs of jurisdictions. Staff work closely with the learning sites to help match the expertise and resources each site offers to the TA needs of law enforcement agencies. The CSG Justice Center, with guidance from a team of national experts and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), selected the nine police departments listed above to act as national learning sites that will help jurisdictions across the country improve their responses to people with mental illnesses.