Mental health consultant to law enforcement: Secret Service development of a Mental Health Liaison Program

Behav Sci Law. Autumn 1998;16(4):407-22. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1099-0798(199823)16:4<407::aid-bsl318>;2-w.


The Mental Health Liaison Program developed and used by the Secret Service is presented as a model for comprehensive, multidimensional interactions between law enforcement and mental health systems, with particular focus on assessing and preventing violent behavior. The structure of the program pairs consultants--psychologists and psychiatrists--with Secret Service field offices to provide (a) consultation regarding risk assessment and case management of individuals who threaten or display inappropriate interest in the President or other protectees; (b) training for agents on risk assessment, mental illness, and mental health care issues; and (c) liaison activities between the Secret Service and the mental health community. Practical benefits to the Secret Service are discussed to encourage more systematic use of broad based psychological and psychiatric consultation to law enforcement, with a goal of enhanced intersystem communication and collaboration. The need for program evaluation and outcome research is discussed in the context of applying the model to improve other mental health and law enforcement systems interactions.

MeSH terms

  • Case Management / organization & administration
  • Forensic Psychiatry / education
  • Forensic Psychiatry / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interinstitutional Relations*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Models, Organizational
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Police / education
  • Police / organization & administration*
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration*
  • Risk Assessment
  • United States
  • Violence / prevention & control*