Building Bridges: Law Enforcement and the Mental Health Advocacy Community An Introduction to the June 2010 IACP Report National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery News Release July 13, 2010 In May 2009, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the JEHT Foundation, the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, and the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR, formerly the National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations) designed and sponsored “Building Safer Communities: Improving Police Response to Persons with Mental Illness,” a two-day summit bringing together over 100 leaders from mental health advocacy and law enforcement communities across the U.S. Keynote presentations at the summit were given by Sam Cochran, developer of Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for law enforcement, and NCMHR Steering Committee member Daniel B. Fisher, who spoke about Emotional CPR (eCPR), a public health education program developed by NCMHR and designed to teach people to assist others through emotional crisis. Both Cochran and Fisher discussed the critical importance of heart-to-heart communication, especially when interacting with someone in emotional crisis. NCMHR Director Lauren Spiro helped to plan the summit and participated in a panel discussion about the challenges and opportunities associated with collaboration. The summit report highlights the importance of focusing on recovery rather than symptom management. Key recommendations include: avoiding the use of restraint and other control mechanisms unless absolutely necessary for public safety; emphasizing involvement of consumers, family members, and other advocates in Crisis Intervention Training and related training; and promoting interagency collaboration to ensure community integration of persons with mental health issues. The report describes “grass-roots, peer-run programs led by and for people in recovery” as “an important part of the continuum of services that should be offered to persons with mental illness who come into contact with law enforcement.” Examples of consumer-run organizations are provided. To read the summit report, click here. Said Spiro, “Working with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has resulted in enhanced mutual understanding and respect across the mental health advocacy and law enforcement communities. It is our wish and our vision that these communities continue to build relationships based on our shared values, principles, and desire to strengthen the bonds of healthy and hopeful communities. Working together, we can weave a safety net across all communities and eliminate the trauma, injury, and loss of life stakeholders can experience when interactions go tragically wrong.” At Alternatives, a national consumer-run conference taking place from September 30 – October 3, 2010 in Anaheim, California, NCMHR will co-facilitate a workshop with law enforcement personnel to discuss past and present collaborations between law enforcement and mental health advocacy communities, and suggest ways to further build relationships between these communities. The “Building Safer Communities” report recommends eCPR as a way to enrich CIT curricula. NCMHR has developed an eCPR guide adapted for law enforcement, and has issued a fact sheet about eCPR for the law enforcement community as well as a list of law enforcement contacts for national statewide consumer organizations. For more information, visit www.emotional-cpr.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-246-9058. ------------- Police Chiefs Release Report: Improving Police Response To Persons With Mental Illness The International Association of Chiefs of Police News Release July 8, 2010 Alexandria, VA – Every day across the country law enforcement officers respond to calls involving an individual with mental illness. People experiencing a mental health crisis and their families often rely on law enforcement officers to respond in an effective manner, treating the person with mental illness with compassion and respect, while at the same time protecting the safety of the public. Unfortunately, due to the lack of consistent policies, procedures, training and education among law enforcement agencies, too many of these calls end badly for all involved. In response to this need, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has released a report titled Building Safer Communities: Improving Police Response to Persons with Mental Illness. This report presents the findings and recommendations from a national summit held by IACP in May 2009 to address the millions of encounters between law enforcement and persons with mental illness in our communities. This report outlines the scope of the problem, identifies factors that have contributed to current challenges and describes innovative policies, programs and practices that have emerged in recent years to provide a foundation of this blueprint for change. These promising approaches offer safer, more compassionate and often cost-effective ways for police and their community partners to respond to adults and juveniles with mental illness. This report is intended to serve as a catalyst, opening a dialogue, increasing mutual understanding and strengthening collaboration among all those with a stake in ensuring appropriate responses to persons with mental illness—law enforcement, community residents, mental health service consumers and their families, advocacy groups and the mental health and justice systems—that will result increased public safety for the community and the ability to better serve individuals with mental illness “One of my top priorities during my term has been a commitment to safeguarding the lives of our officers and the citizens they serve,” stated IACP President Michael Carroll, Chief of the West Goshen Township, PA Police Department. “Therefore it is imperative that we provide officers with the tools and training necessary to respond appropriately and ensure not only their safety, but also that of the person in mental health crisis, their family and the community at large. I am confident that this publication will aid law enforcement agencies in establishing much needed protocols for police and their community partners to respond to adults and juveniles with mental illness.” The summit was a collaborative effort with funding provided by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the JEHT Foundation (NY). Summit design and substantive support was also provided by the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (NFFCMH), and the National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations (NCMHCSO). “The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health is excited to be involved in a partnership with the IACP to improve and advance outcomes of encounters between law enforcement and children and youth with mental health illness.” Sandra Spencer, Executive Director, NFFCMH. The summit brought together over 100 leaders from across the country—law enforcement executives and officers, consumers/survivors of mental health services, community and family members, mental health practitioners and advocates, representatives of courts and corrections agencies, and researchers—who contributed their knowledge to both the summit itself and this report. “It is our collective responsibility to work together to develop practical strategies and tools to assist law enforcement and the justice system to ensure that persons with mental illness receive the services they need and to preserve public safety,” said James Burch, Acting Director of BJA. “With state and local governments struggling to sustain corrections and justice system operations, we must be smart about decision making at all points along the justice continuum, and certainly at the front door. The summit and the IACP report will move us in this direction.” The International Association of Chiefs of Police is the world’s oldest and largest association of law enforcement executives. Founded in 1893, the IACP has more than 22,000 members in 100 countries. -------------- Excerpt from the Report: Mental Health Consumer-Driven Services Many consumers of mental health treatment, their families and advocates have united to urge that all services be focused on recovery rather than simply on symptom management or maintenance.23 There are hundreds of non-profit, mental health consumer-run organizations in the U.S. and internationally with track records providing evidence that many individuals labeled with mental illnesses can and do recover.24 Consumer-driven approaches consistent with principles of hope, self-determination, choice, and dignity differ from traditional treatment approaches by empowering consumers/survivors to offer support to one another. Consumer-driven peer support is based on the principle that people who have experienced mental health recovery can provide effective support to others in ways that will enhance and support their own recovery. This approach encourages the development of reciprocal relationships between givers and receivers of support that enable both parties to feel valued and empowered, thus facilitating their well-being and increasing their opportunities for meaningful community integration. Peer support can reduce the risk of institutionalization and incarceration through offering a wider array of options for persons with mental illness to work with strong emotions in comfortable, non-judgmental environments. Helping individuals develop new stress management skills and options reduces the risk of them experiencing emotional crises that may require law enforcement intervention. Grass-roots, peer-run programs led by and for people in recovery from mental illness clearly are an important part of the continuum of services that should be offered to persons with mental illness who come into contact with law enforcement. These programs can encourage community integration in ways that are beyond the capacity of professional mental health practitioners.