This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

Law Enforcement and Mental Health Services: a Vital Partnership

downloadDownload printPrint

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Mental Illness and Policing
    Method and Data from the Benton County- OSU Collaboration
  3. Discussion
  4. My Perspective
  5. Conclusion
  6. References


A growing concern throughout law enforcement, policymakers, and academic researchers is the disproportionate rate and incarceration of people with mental illnesses (PwMI). Although Mental health-related police contact has been to vary, PwMI represents at least 16 percent of the U.S. prison and jail population. Law enforcement officials are first responders to any situation, including situations relating to mental illnesses. Police are supposed to protect the public by removing dangerous persons from the community, but they are also supposed to provide protection to citizens who are vulnerable. When police respond to mental crisis calls police typically have three options: they may execute a formal arrest, they may detain the person and transport him or her to a mental health facility or they can resolve the situation informally. This puts law enforcement officers in a situation where they are seen as “street-corner psychiatrists”, which can put police officers in situations that they are not fully trained for. In Benton County, Oregon officers began to come into contact with more suspects displaying signs of mental illnesses. Law enforcement agencies reached out to researchers at Oregon State University, which in turn, created the collaboration between OSU, Corvallis Police Department, and the Benton County Sheriffs’ Office. This research team was then tasked to generate new policy recommendations based on the data shared from law enforcement agencies of Benton County.

Are you Looking For A Custom Essay about “Law Enforcement and Mental Health Services: A Vital Partnership” NOW? You Found It!

Professional Writers that Guarantee an On-time Delivery


experts online

Mental Illness and Policing

The focus of research based on the subset of justice-involved PwMI is on offenders that come into repetitive and frequent contact with the police because of their mental illness. This subset of offenders is also known as “frequent fliers”. They are known as frequent fliers because they often cycle between jail, halfway houses, hospital emergency rooms, and back to the streets. A study down in Honolulu was conducted on police contact with PwMI, 63.5% of police contacts with PwMI were individuals known on sight by police, which shows how repetitive some of these contacts are. These types of contact with police and people with mental illnesses are problematic to police officers. Officers are seen spending more time on scenes with these types of individuals, and a large number of them have to be placed into custody and taken for mental health evaluations. Another example of repetitive police contact was a study done with the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD identified 67 PwMI are in involved in a total of 536 calls for a service in an eight-month span in 2004. Although the frequent flier population is relatively small, they generate high frequencies of contact with law enforcement. The high frequency of police contacts generates substantial costs in terms of the officer’s hours. These numerous contacts with officers at such a high cost makes policy recommendations needed for this issue.

Method and Data from the Benton County- OSU Collaboration

Benton County, Oregon came into contact with the researchers at Oregon State University and discussed a collaborative investigation about the amount of contact between suspects who display symptoms of mental illness and local law enforcement. The collaboration between the two began in September of 2012. The police officers in Benton County may resolve issues with PwMI in one of three ways: resolve the matter informally, arrest the person if they have committed a crime, or place the person in Peace Officer Custody (POC). Peace officer custody is a type of arrest that occurs because an individual is believed to be a danger to self or others due to mental illness. After officers complete a POC they are directed to take the individual to the nearest hospital or mental health facility that is approved by the Oregon Health Authority. Police officers should not be the ones dealing with the mentally ill, that is why promoting this collaboration would develop solutions to help handle this situation. Benton County and Corvallis have multiple traits that contribute to the expected population of people with mental illnesses. In Corvallis, there is a regional medical center where patients with mental illnesses are treated. Individuals that were detained under Peace officer custody are brought to this location. Researchers began retrieving official police data and interviews with individuals that in the local law enforcement agencies and mental health fields. After retrieving all the data, researchers were able to produce a final report that “recommends a mental health court, improved health information sharing, an explicit framework for future collaboration among the relevant criminal justice and health agencies, and a specialized mental health response”. The data that was collected relies on two distinct sets: arrests and incidents resolved informally. The data ranges from Janurary1st 2007 to December 31st,2012, the arrest data is all arrests made by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and the Corvallis Police Department. The arrest data that was collected shows 13,650 unique suspects with 22,875 arrests and 33,064 charges; within all of that arrests, there were 914 POC charges applied to 6971 individuals.


This article highlighted over a six-year span in Benton County, Oregon the disproportionate contribution that frequent fliers made to the aggregate amount of contact between law enforcement and PwMIs. In this study, it is discovered that there is very little time between the mental health-related police contacts. For example:

Nearly half of all repeat POC arrests (an indicator of police contacts with PwMI) occurred within 60 days of the initial POC arrest and over a quarter of repeat POC arrests occurred within just 14 days of the initial POC arrest. Results further showed that the 93 individuals with multiple POCs in a year (365-day bandwidth) accounted for 285 POC. Narrowing the bandwidth used to define frequent fliers, the 38 individuals with multiple POCs in a two-week period (14-day bandwidth) accounted for 140 POC arrests. Therefore, these alarming numbers provide us with an idea of how this small subset of the justice-involved PwMI excessively impacts the justice system.

My Perspective

In my opinion, I personally feel that this collaboration was a great idea. It was one of the first steps in the right direction for the criminal justice system. In the article, there was nothing mentioned about the cost or any financial subjects that were needed for the collaboration, so essentially this was cost-free for both the University and the Law enforcement agencies involved. Providing new policies for situations that were mentioned throughout this paper, revealed one of several major flaws though out the current justice system. I have noticed that Universities around the country do so much research and publish all these journals that do not get read, in which they could change so many things throughout our system. Research about our criminal justice system tends to have a reoccurring theme relating to issues with officers and mental health offenders. If this collaboration was more known throughout our country, it could provide opportunities for PwMIs. Of course, nothing in this world is free, so a concern would be how expensive it would be to provide systems such as POC. But I personally believe that if it saves keeping repeat offenders out of jail and prisons that have mental illnesses, it would offset the current cost of keeping them in those jails or prisons. It is important to understand that if these types of collaborations are made throughout the country, this could start a wave of transformation for the justice system.

With change there come many questions, with these questions there will be issues and flaws within a new system. After reading and reviewing this journal I began to question many things that concern me about our criminal justice system. Some of my questions deal with how the justice system operates, and if it changes would it actually functions more smoothly if it followed the collaboration. In particular one of my questions regarded the people with mental illnesses and what happens to them if they are deemed as “untreatable”, would they be sent to prison or stay put in a mental institution? The idea of constantly sending mentally ill offenders to prison for them to constantly repeat the cycle over and over again does not seem right to me. Yet again, there is no answer to that question, some may view this person as a lost cause and a waste of money at this point. But I personally feel at that point leaving them in a mental prison would be the best opportunity for them.

Outside of this Journal article, earlier this semester I watched a video on a gentleman who suffers from two mental illnesses, one of them being post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This gentleman served in our united states military for many years, and to his friends and family, he was a great guy. While he was on one of his many tours he experienced several situations that began to develop his PTSD. One day he called his relatives and he was showing them signs of paranoia and his PTSD building up. One day while he was home, he went into one of his manic episodes and grabbed all of his guns, and went on the run. This gentleman even went into a covenant store and asked someone if they wanted to die today. He led police on a chase and a two-hour standoff. One of the officers who was a woman was speaking to him while he paced back and forth with his weapon. This officer pulled up all of this gentleman’s records and saw his war history and it was clear to her that he was mentally ill. Keeping the situation calm, they finally detained the individual and he was put into a mental hospital. He is now healthy, lives on his own, and even has a dog. This situation I just explained is a great example of how officers can come into contact with PwMI.

One thing that struck me in the journal article was when Burkhardt spoke about how police were unfit to respond appropriately to individuals who are having a mental crisis. I have never thought out a situation like that, but if police officers are the ones who are supposed to make citizens feel safe and secure, how can they go on without education on how to deal with mentally ill people? In my opinion, it does not make sense for a law enforcement officer to respond to a mental illness call if they have no formal education on mental illnesses, especially if an individual is going through a crisis. Also, another thought is how could an officer who has no education on mental illnesses, decide where an individual should be placed. I personally feel that law enforcement officers should have knowledge on these topics, so they can properly decide where an individual should go.

Get a Personal "Law Enforcement and Mental Health Services: A Vital Partnership" Tailored Essay For You in 3 Hours!

100% Customized to Your Need with Expert Writers



Frequent fliers experience contact with law enforcement way to many times. Even though they are a sub-population of the overall amount of police contacts with PwMI, they are still prominent. The method described in the collaboration in this journal shows an effective way for police agencies and researchers to get with mental health services and create other collaborations. Addressing the frequent flier population, it will overall help filter who should be arrested and who should be placed in peace officer custody. The world of mental illness keeps growing and it is important that our justice system grows and works with it.


  1. Akins, S., Burkhardt, B. C., & Lanfear, C. (2015). Law Enforcement Response to “Frequent Fliers”: An Examination of High-Frequency Contacts Between Police and Justice- Involved Persons With Mental Illness. [Article in Press]. Criminal Justice Policy Review. doi:10.1177/0887403414559268
  2. Burkhardt, B. C., Akins, S., Sassaman, J., Jackson, S., Elwer, K., Lanfear, C., . . . Stevens, K. (2016). University Researcher and Law Enforcement Collaboration. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology,61(5), 508-525. doi:10.1177/0306624×15599393
  3. Green, T.M. (1997). Police as front line mental health workers. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 20, 469-486.
  4. Houston Police Department. (2010). Chronic consumer stabilization initiative: A multi-agency collaboration between the city of Houston health and human services department and the Running head: LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSE TO “FREQUENT FLIERS” mental health retardation authority of Harris County. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from
  5. Reuland, M., Schwarzefeld, M., & Draper L. (2009). Law enforcement responses to people with mental illnesses: A guide to research-informed policy and practice. New York: Council of State Governments Justice Center.
  6. Teplin, L.A. (1984). Managing disorder: Police handling of the mentally ill. In L. A. Teplin (Ed.), Mental health and criminal justice (pp.157-175). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
  7. Torrey, E.F., Kennard, A.D., Eslinger, D., Lamb, R. & Pavle, J. (2010). More mentally ill persons are in jails and prisons than hospitals: A survey of the states. A report issued jointly by the National Sheriffs Association and Treatment Advocacy Center.

Remember! This is just a sample.

You can get your custom paper by one of our expert writers.

Get custom essay

121 writers online


Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

experts 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help you just now

delivery Starting from 3 hours delivery

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Law Enforcement and Mental Health Services: A Vital Partnership. (2022, May 17). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 27, 2023, from
“Law Enforcement and Mental Health Services: A Vital Partnership.” GradesFixer, 17 May 2022,
Law Enforcement and Mental Health Services: A Vital Partnership. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 May 2023].
Law Enforcement and Mental Health Services: A Vital Partnership [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 May 17 [cited 2023 May 27]. Available from:
copy to clipboard

Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!


    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!

    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now