Police officers often respond to incidents that do not involve crime or immediate threats to public safety but instead deal with community members facing unmet mental health needs. In response to this, many cities are experimenting with co-deploying police officers alongside health professionals or deploying teams entirely composed of civilian health professionals.

Recently, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) explored the perspectives and preferences about these programs among residents in structurally disadvantaged areas where mental health distress is more common, mental health services are less accessible, and involvement with police is more frequent and fraught. The findings, published in the Journal of Community Safety & Well-Being, provide insights to guide efforts toward a healthier response to mental health crises.

The study reveals that while many respondents suggested that police presence is necessary during the response to mental health crises because of the risk of violence, they were simultaneously uncomfortable with police officer involvement. The discomfort with police involvement was especially pronounced among younger and Black residents. However, support for co-deployment was high across all subgroups.


Read the full article about policing and mental health by Ed Federico-U. at Futurity.