On a daily basis, law enforcement officers (LEOs) encounter individuals displaying mental health symptomology. It is unfortunate that typically the public only hears about law enforcement’s adverse interactions with those diagnosed with mental illness; such as when things go awry and negative outcomes occur. When these situations occur, LEOs enter reactionary mode, and they are forced to respond to media inquiries and social media hype, in real time. In both their message and rhetoric, law enforcement can come across as defensive, confusing, uncaring, and evasive.
This does not have to be the case. Law enforcement has the ability to get ahead of these encounters by partnering with others and demonstrating genuine concern to the mental health community. To do so, it would be beneficial to create the position of a mental health agency liaison officer.
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In Public Safety, October 19, 2018