Police Interactions with Persons-in-Crisis: Emergency Psychological Services and Jail Diversion

Police Interactions with Persons-in-Crisis: Emergency Psychological Services and Jail Diversion

Michael E. Christopher (Honolulu Police Department, USA) and Vincent G. Tsushima (Hawaii Pacific University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0813-7.ch014


This chapter addresses the interaction of law enforcement officers and people who are psychologically impaired as a result of mental illness, emotional disturbance, or severe intoxication. The chapter consists of three major sections. Part One provides an overview of the larger legal and social factors that increasingly require law enforcement to develop specialized programmatic responses for responding to a Person-in-Crisis (PIC). Part Two provides an overview of different types of programmatic attempts to address the problems associated with these at-risk populations. Part Three offers recommendations to police psychologists on how to develop programmatic solutions to the challenges faced by law enforcement when dealing with PICs.
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Part One: Social Factors And Law Enforcement Responses To Pics

In 2014, there were approximately 12 million people in the United States with a serious mental illness (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013; Kids Count Data Center, 2015). A significant portion of this population will have one or more mental health crises during their lifetimes that will result in encounters with law enforcement. A study of 174 police departments across the United States found that 7 to 10% of all police interactions involved individuals experiencing symptoms of serious mental illness (SMI; Deane, Steadman, Borum, Veysey, & Morrissey, 1999). While we do not have historical data for comparison, it appears likely that these encounters have dramatically increased in recent decades (Hails & Borum, 2003). The reasons for the likely increases in these interactions cannot be accounted for by increases in rates of mental illness or drug abuse (NIH, 2015) and, therefore, have to be understood in terms of changes in public policy (Torrey, 2014).

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