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Improving Police Response to Mental Health Crisis in a Rural Area

Award Information

Award #
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)
Original Solicitation

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $627,482)

The Smart Policing Initiative seeks to build upon the concepts of offender-based and place-based policing and broaden the knowledge of effective policing strategies. The most convincing research demonstrates that place-based or hotspot policing reduces violent crime and neighborhood disorder. This initiative addresses the need for effective policing that requires a tightly focused, collaborative approach that is measurable, based on sound, detailed analysis and includes policies and procedures for accountability. This grant program seeks to build upon data-driven, evidence-based policing by encouraging state and local law enforcement agencies to develop effective, economical, and innovative responses to precipitous or extraordinary increases in crime, or in a type or types of crime within their jurisdictions.

The Roanoke County Police Department (RCPD), will utilize SPI funds in partnership with research partners to develop and implement cost-effective interventions using an evidence-based approach to improve the lives of people with serious mental illnesses in the community and enhance the safety of first responders, people with mental illness, and community in general. The partnership will enable the RCPD to provide flexible treatment options aimed at preventing incidents and tragedies, diverting the mental ill from the criminal justice system to community-based services to maintain familial attachment and their pre-crisis levels of functioning, and reducing injuries of police and suspects due to use of force while strengthening police legitimacy within their respective communities. The goals of the project are to identify the extent of the problems; develop and implement a randomized controlled trial to deliver service treatment; conduct focus groups with first responders and individuals who have contact with the police; analyze outcome data from the experiment to identify the effects of the treatment; and, finally, to incorporate the knowledge into policy, standard operating procedures, and training in an effort to institutionalize research into police practice.


Date Created: August 25, 2015