Introduction

Today an
important and intersecting area of the criminal justice system and health
policy is how to better handle a person in mental crisis who becomes entangled
into the criminal justice system.  In
most mental health crisis, the police being in the capacity of a first
responder, is likely to have the initial contact with the person in distress.  The fact is, there is an immediate need for a
training professional to provide the needed assistance, according to the (National
Alliance on Mental Illness, 2015).  Within
the criminal justice system, approximately sixty-four (64) percent of prison
inmates are subjected to some form of mental health challenge (Bureau of
Justice Statistics, 2014).  Over the
years, the law enforcement community has struggled responding to these needs
due to the absence of the specialized training. 
Law Enforcement agencies are constantly enhancing policies to improve
the initial interactions with individuals who have behavioral health
needs.  Significant efforts by state
legislatures have been focused on additional training for the police when
dealing with people who have behavioral needs and are in crisis.  One of the main objectives in training the
law enforcement community, is to be able to recognize the many symptoms of
mental illnesses. In addition, through training, develop the skill set needed to
effectively engage with someone in crisis and deescalate the incident.  The fact that a caregiver is hesitant to dial
911 when seeking assistance with a person in crisis, speaks volumes.  The fear that the situation may escalate to
needless danger for both the police and the person in crisis is a strong
indication of needed training for the law enforcement professionals.

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Research shows that a gap in training and social
interaction places the law enforcement community at a disadvantage when
interacting with the mentally ill.  This gap
widens when police officers lack social interaction with someone with a mental
illness in their private lives. 

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