It is clear from watching the video that Kansas City, Missouri is lacking in collaboration between police officers and mental health professionals and physicians. In terms of communication strategies, systemic changes will need to be implemented. In particular, the community may benefit from monthly collaboration and planning meetings between mental health professionals in the community and the police departments. It is clear that there is a breakdown in the training of police officers on mental illness, and it is also evident that mental illness is a frequently-encountered problem by these police officers. Having open dialogues where police and mental health professionals can each seek consultation with one another may prove effective in maintaining a better system of care between hospitalization and outpatient treatment. According to an article by Frierson (2013), there has been success in implementing police officer training interventions that can help police work with those with psychiatric disorders. The intervention involved the teaching of skills needed for conflict resolution like paying attention to body language, observing body language in others, and using active listening skills to aid in successful conflict resolution.
As for improvements in protocols and best practices, I recommend having all police officers trained in crisis intervention services, especially due to the high rates of suicide and due to the high number of suicide related calls. It was surprising to hear that only four hours are devoted during police training sessions to working with the mentally ill. Crisis intervention for all officers could provide additional, and needed, exposure.
In terms of technological strategies, improvements can be made in the communication between mental health professionals and police officers. In fact, having an on-call mental health professional to answer questions or to ask questions to assess risk may be very helpful to the police officers and the community members.
- Frierson, R.L. (2013). Commentary: Police officers and persons with mental illness. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law, 41(3), 356-358.