California law enforcement agencies and the mentally ill offender

Bull Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 1995;23(3):315-29.


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.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Case Management
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Crime*
  • Crisis Intervention / education
  • Crisis Intervention / organization & administration
  • Emergencies
  • Forms and Records Control
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training
  • Interinstitutional Relations
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Police* / education
  • Prisons / organization & administration
  • Problem Solving
  • Suicide / prevention & control