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Psychol Serv. 2013 Feb;10(1):66-72. doi: 10.1037/a0029651. Epub 2012 Oct 22.

Enhancing services response to crisis incidents involving veterans: a role for law enforcement and mental health collaboration.

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  • 1Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, CA, USA.


When crisis situations involving veterans occur, responding police officers find themselves playing an important role in the spectrum of health and mental health services for those veterans. Crisis response training can help officers respond in a manner that increases safety and optimizes outcomes for all people involved. Yet, current crisis response police training models are only accessible to select officers. Nor do they emphasize the unique challenges and strengths that impact veterans who experience acute symptoms of mental illness. In the current study, we report the results from the first generation of training, collaboratively designed to enhance officers' (a) knowledge of relevant topics, including posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, (b) attitudes about veterans, and (c) and skills helpful in identifying and deescalating veterans and referring them to treatment. Officers completed in-class evaluations (N = 314), and a subsample (n = 53) completed 3-month follow-up evaluations. Pre- versus posttest comparisons indicated significant improvements in total score, and individually in knowledge, attitudes, and skills. Consistent with previous literature, the specific in-class gains were not retained on follow-up. However, responding officers widely endorsed use of de-escalation techniques during, and a positive impact of the training on, their interactions with veterans in the 3 months following the training. Implications for future training and policy are discussed.

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