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The Role of the Police with the Mentally Ill

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Criminal Court Consultation

Part of the book series: Critical Issues in American Psychiatry and the Law ((CIAP,volume 5))

Abstract

Police involvement with the mentally ill in the community has become, in recent years, a subject of increasing concern. Although the police have been recognized for some time as an important community mental health resource1, the increase in the number of mentally ill persons residing in the community has burdened the police with added responsibilities. This increase in the number of mentally ill persons residing in the community has been attributed to several factors: the growing emphasis on deinstitutionalization in the mental health field, the expansion of legal constraints regarding psychiatric treatment that includes stricter criteria for civil commitment and the extension of legal guidelines developed to protect the patient’s right to refuse treatment, and finally the steady reduction in available funding for mental health programs2. These factors have resulted in a situation in which not only has the number of mentally ill persons residing in the community increased over the past decade, but also many of the poorest treatment cases (that is, patients who have had multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and have been sent from one clinic to another only to be essentially “rejected” [considered untreatable] as “bad patients”3 or as “forfeited patients”4), ultimately decompensate and come to the attention of the police. If an individual becomes violent, disorderly, or violates the law, the police officer called to the scene has to decide whether the situation should be handled as a civil case by detaining the individual for psychiatric hospitalization, as a criminal case by arresting the individual, or as a case that can be resolved in one of a variety of informal ways by utilizing available resources.5

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© 1989 Plenum Press, New York

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Travin, S. (1989). The Role of the Police with the Mentally Ill. In: Rosner, R., Harmon, R.B. (eds) Criminal Court Consultation. Critical Issues in American Psychiatry and the Law, vol 5. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4613-0739-6_10

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4613-0739-6_10

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4612-8058-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4613-0739-6

  • eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive

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