Conducting Follow-up After a Crisis Encounter

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.

Sharing information among law enforcement and behavioral health agency partners after an officer has an encounter with a person in mental health crisis is critical to reducing repeat encounters and improving people’s connections to treatment. With this information in hand, PMHC partners can work together to identify people who are frequently involved in both the behavioral health and criminal justice systems and who may benefit from follow-up visits. This information also gives the PMHC better opportunities to coordinate connections to treatment and services.

Discussing Complex Cases and Trends in Interagency Workgroup Meetings

Interagency workgroups composed of leaders from law enforcement, behavioral health, and other agencies who have a stake in the success of the PMHC are key to sustaining the PMHC efforts and affording partners opportunities to discuss ways to track its progress. These workgroup meetings can also serve as an opportunity to examine illustrative complex cases (without names attached) and discuss trends that are emerging related to police responses to people in crisis and available behavioral health services. Through these collaborative discussions, PMHC partners can learn lessons from previous cases, identify opportunities to strengthen their cross-agency partnership, troubleshoot any challenges they’ve had in sharing information during and after crisis situations, and begin to identify cases for prioritized outreach. Note: Interagency workgroups may include community stakeholders and may even be required to be open to the public. Care should be taken to protect individual privacy in discussing any specific cases during these meetings through thoughtful preparation of which facts will be included in the discussion.

The following agenda is an example from Cleveland, Ohio’s interagency workgroup’s regularly scheduled meetings. This agenda can be used as a template for any community seeking to begin or strengthen their efforts in formalizing discussions of complex cases and trends during their workgroup meetings.

Identifying Shared Clients for Follow-Up Care

Many law enforcement agencies use databases or computer-aided dispatch systems to track the data they collect on the scene. Officers are able to generate reports from these databases on individual encounters that include demographic information about the person involved, the location of the incident, and information about the nature of the call and the response. Officers can also run reports to identify people who frequently encounter law enforcement due to mental health crises or substance addictions. Using this information (in adherence with privacy regulations), PMHC partners can identify shared clients who routinely encounter law enforcement and who have regular contact with the behavioral system. They can then prioritize outreach and follow-up case management for people in this population. Some police departments also provide database access to select staff from partner behavioral health agencies to facilitate the identification of shared clients and the provision of follow-up care. Other departments participate in interagency data exchanges by submitting data to a shared data warehouse or other data linkages. Note: Whatever information technology approach is used, only authorized individuals should be able to access  protected health information; permissions should be used to restrict access in accordance with privacy law.

The following tools have been created or used by jurisdictions across the country to identify what data can be shared among partners through the use of technology, who is collecting the data, and how it can be accessed. These resources can be used as templates for any community seeking to begin or strengthen their efforts in using technology to identify shared clients.