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An Academic-based Training Initiative to Improve Police Responses for People with Mental Illness and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Past Project Period End Date
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $2,244,856)

Law enforcement officers routinely are the first responders to incidents involving people with mental illness (MI) and, notably, up to 10 percent of calls for service involve someone with a severe mental illness. Additionally, it is estimated that 87 percent more resources are used for calls for service involving a person with MI. It is also estimated that 1 in 4 jail inmates and 1 in 7 state and federal prisoners met the threshold for serious psychological distress (SPD) compared to 1 in 19 persons in the general U.S. general population, and females held in prisons or jails were more likely than males to have met the threshold for SPD or to have a history of mental health problems.

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) can present to law enforcement officers as people with signs and symptoms of MI, but may be more accurately described as people who have IDD or both MI and IDD. People who have IDD may require different responses by law enforcement officers and may have different service needs, and they can be both perpetrators and victims. The rate of violent victimization against people with disabilities was 2.5 times higher than those without disabilities. Therefore, increasing and enhancing law enforcement capacity to appropriately respond to incidents involving people with MI and IDD can reduce the frequency of officer and subject injury. As such, BJA seeks to provide grant funding to create An Academic-based Training Initiative to Improve Police-Based Responses to People with Mental Illness and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

This initiative focuses on developing academic-based, transdisciplinary crisis intervention training to educate, train, and prepare law enforcement officers so that they are equipped to appropriately interact with people who have MI and IDD in the course of completing their job responsibilities. This training should be developed by an institution of higher education, in conjunction with health care professionals, to provide crisis intervention training that will focus on understanding mental and behavioral health, developing empathy, navigating community resources, and de-escalation skills and practical application training of those skills for all first responders. This grant program will serve as a pilot program, establishing best practices for law enforcement agencies.


Date Created: January 9, 2020