IACP Working for You: One Mind Campaign: Improving Law Enforcement’s Response to Persons Affected by Mental Illness

Law enforcement agencies face special challenges when responding to persons affected by mental illness or in crisis. Often, the responding individuals are not only operating as police officers, but also assuming the responsibility of social workers and other community support roles. As a result, police leaders constantly struggle to identify and develop policies and approaches to address how to best respond to persons affected by mental illness, and officers often lack clear policy direction and training to effectively serve this population. As law enforcement agencies struggle to meet such challenges, the outcomes of these interactions have lifelong implications for the people involved because they can lead to the injury or death of the individual in crisis, other community members, or the officers involved. Beyond the potential for physical injury or worse, the damage to meaningful, trusting relationships between police departments and their communities can take years to repair.