California law enforcement agencies and the mentally ill offender.
J. R. Husted, R. A. Charter and B. Perrou,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
23(3): 315-29, 1995.
This article reviews the results of a survey of California law enforcement agencies, designed to
assess the experience of these agencies with mentally ill offenders (MIOs) and the training of their
officers to interact with this population. The results suggest that most law enforcement officers are
given insufficient training to identify, manage, and appropriately refer the MIOs they are increasingly
likely to encounter. The data indicate that, in contrast to their training and expectations, peace
officers are as likely to be called to a mental illness crisis as to a robbery. The MIO is likely to be
arrested for nonviolent misdemeanors and to be screened by officers with little of the training or
knowledge needed to divert them to appropriate mental health treatment. Respondents report that
increased communication and cooperation between law enforcement and mental health professionals
is the single greatest improvement needed for handling mental illness crises.