Law Enforcement Leaders Agree: Communities Must Step Up to Address Mental Health Needs Preventatively

On November 13 and 14 in Los Angeles, the Equitas Project convened 90 leaders and decision-makers in law enforcement for the Course Corrections: National Law Enforcement Summit. Participants at the event included police chiefs, sheriffs, and district attorneys from across the country, as well as national advocacy organizations with a stake in law enforcement issues. Summit participants spent a day …

Jailing people with mental illness is a national problem. The solutions are local.

There are countless problems in this world that lack ready solutions. Jailing so many people with mental illness is not one of them. While it’s a national problem, addressing mental illness in America’s jails requires local people finding on-the-ground solutions. Progress requires teamwork among judges, police, sheriffs, mental health workers, probation officers and others who affect the lives of people …

Coordination and Communication are Key to Improving Mental Health and Criminal Justice in America

Mental health and criminal justice are a tangled mess in communities all across the country. Rather than supporting health from childhood through old age, our social systems show hardly any signs of understanding mental health at all. We don’t systematically recognize or have the capacity to respond to early indications for concern, and instead rely upon law enforcement to intervene …

‘Silence can be deadly’: 46 officers were fatally shot last year. More than triple that — 140 — committed suicide.

Suicides left more officers and firefighters dead last year than all line-of-duty deaths combined — a jarring statistic that continues to plague first responders but garners little attention. According to a new study by the Ruderman Family Foundation, while suicide has been an ingrained issue for years, very little has been done to address it even though first responders have PTSD and depression at …

How I Learned Not to Call 911

Every day, New Yorkers encounter so many mentally ill people, whether on the street or in their own buildings. The most recent data for New York shows that some 95,000 New Yorkers with serious mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, have not received mental health treatment in the past year. There are fewer mental health beds than ever. Very few of the people …

Colo. sheriff’s office to pair mental health specialists with deputies

Before the Colorado Springs Police Department started its Community Response Team to better assist residents dealing with mental health issues, one woman was calling 911 about 300 times a year. But in those situations, officers were limited to three options: to neutralize the situation as best as possible and leave the person as they were; transport them to city emergency …

Mental health and substance-use disorders are growing problems in Colorado. Pairing police with mental health professionals could help.

Colorado is pushing for new approaches to how police officers handle cases involving mental illness and drug addiction, encouraging them to steer low-level offenders toward treatment rather than jail and giving them assistance in dealing with potentially dangerous situations. In one tactic, mental health professionals ride with officers during 911 responses and some routine patrols. In another, local communities place …

Sheriffs Lead the Way

Though “the system” hasn’t kept up with addressing the growing social responsibilities put on law enforcement, sheriff’s offices and police departments are not alone in recognizing that there is a problem. The National Sheriffs’ Association has identified mental health as a key legislative priority. And deputies and police are increasingly finding support from public defenders, district attorneys, judges, corrections officers, …