Helping Persons with Mental Illness: Partnerships between Police and Mobile Crisis Units



Vivian B. Lord & Beth Bjerregaard

Victims & Offenders: An International Journal of Evidence-based Research, Policy, and Practice

October 2014



People with mental illness (PMI) have increased dramatically, and these individuals are at greater risk for repeated contact with the criminal justice system. Mobile crisis units (MCUs) have been heralded as effective partners with law enforcement to provide appropriate interventions to PMI and reduce the possibilities of criminalization of this population. The purpose of this research is to examine a partnership between law enforcement and a county-wide MCU to determine (1) the nature of interactions between police-referred calls to the MCU and (2) to determine the outcomes of these calls and the factors that might influence the outcomes. Significant differences in the type of PMI calls from law enforcement–referred calls to MCUs are found; the PMI are twice as likely to be violent, intoxicated, psychotic, mood-order diagnosed, and in emergent need of care. The type of referral is no longer significant when the model includes risk factors. Policy implications of the partnership between law enforcement and MCUs are discussed.









Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee