Policing Vulnerable Populations: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Programs

Policing Vulnerable Populations: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Programs
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2019-08-08
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Policing Vulnerable Populations: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Programs
Unit 2 Workbook: Policing Vulnerable Populations. Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Programs
Unit 3 Recording: Policing Vulnerable Populations: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Programs

Law enforcement and mental health support services intersect in drug abuse cases. Tucson recognized the link between two disciplines when they conceptualized their Mental Health Support Team that allowed people to receive the proper treatment they need and steered them away from jails and ERs.

Back on Justice Clearinghouse is Jason Winsky from the Tucson Police Department’s Mental Health Service Team (MHST). The MHST team is created to respond to individuals in crisis so they’ll be able to get the treatment they need. Jason is MHST’s supervisor, a Co-Facilitator of the Pima County Regional Crisis Intervention Team Training, and a Mental Health First Aid Instructor.

Specifics Jason tackled on this webinar include:

  • An overview of Tucson, Arizona and their law enforcement.
  • Realistic expectations that the project is expected to address.
  • The typical outcomes of instituting an MHST like increased interagency collaboration, reduced use of force and better-educated personnel on mental health matters.
  • The type of incidents that highlighted the need for the establishment of an MHST in Tucson.
  • The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training program which served as the antecedent of the MHST.
    • A look into the collaborating agencies.
    • The CIT training schedule and the types of training offered.
    • The different fields that the class instructors are from.
    • Misconceptions on the goals of the CIT.
    • A breakdown of the staff trained voluntarily for Tucson under the CIT.
  • The evolution that progressed from the purely voluntary CIT to the dedicated MHST.
  • The Tucson Co-Responder Model
    • Its beginnings based on LAPD’s model.
    • The team’s staffing and the responsibilities of its members.
    • How having an MHST resulted in a more efficient allocation of time and resources.
  • The Tucson PD Deflection Model.
    • The timeline from conceptualization to implementation.
    • Differentiating deflection from diversion where diversion is intended for those already involved in the criminal justice system and deflection is for those who have not.
    • The key goal identified as to address the Opioid epidemic, save lives and ensure access to proper treatment.
    • The services offered under the Deflection Program.
    • The benefits of the Deflection Program with reduced crime and contact with the justice system, reduced drug-related overdoses and deaths, and addressing housing issues.
  • The different components of the initiative based on where and how an individual is funneled to the Deflection Program.
    • Self-referral where the deflection is initiated by the person in crisis by going to a police facility.
    • Social referral where the individual contacts law enforcement within the community.
    • Officer initiated/discretion deflection amidst interaction/investigation.
    • Active outreach where law enforcement engages proactively with the community.
    • Pre-arrest deflection where instead of being sent to jail, the individual is brought to the treatment facility.
  • The learning programs that Tucson PD offer as a Federal Learning Site.
  • Questions raised by the webinar participants were on:
    • What deflection is and the nature of crimes/cases that qualify for deflection.
    • Providing the same treatment service for low-level probation warrants.
    • What the Memphis model is, and Tucson’s MHST composition and function.
    • The best approach when it comes to selecting who’ll participate in CIT.
    • Navigating HIPAA concerns in the co-responder model.
    • Moving away from utilizing jails as de facto mental institutions and into deflection.
    • Specific benefits of adopting the MHST’s programs.
    • Challenges faced and overcame when implementing the programs.


Audience Comments

  • “As you think of future training sessions consider asking college professors to participate. I completed the training two years ago in Dayton with local LEOs, mental health professionals, and other agencies providing services to those in need.” — Pamela
  • “This is the first time I hear of officers taking individuals for treatment vs. jail. I am happy to hear about this CIT program. In my opinion, more police departments need to implement this program.” — Reina
  • “The need to talk openly about how law enforcement will/needs to interact with mental health and substance abuse issues.” — Denise



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