TEMPO: A contemporary model for police education and training about mental illness




Terry Coleman, Dorothy Cotton

International Journal of Law and Psychiatry

8 April 2014






Given the increasing number of interactions between police and people with mental illnesses (PMI), there has been widespread interest in the development of education for police about how best to interact with PMI. This paper reflects the review of current practice in a variety of jurisdictions across Canada as well as in the United States (U.S.), the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Australia; it proposes a comprehensive model of learning based on the literature that addresses not only the content in the narrow sense but also the importance of broader contextual knowledge and understanding in developing effective education and training. Embedded in the principles articulated in the Mental Health Strategy for Canada, the TEMPO (Training and Education about Mental illness for Police Organizations) model is a multilevel learning strategy for Canadian police personnel. Learning objectives and key principles are articulated in order to ensure the model is applicable to a wide range of police agencies and individual jurisdictional needs. In addition to providing a firm basis of factual knowledge for police personnel, the resultant model embraces a human rights/anti-stigma philosophy, provides for a range of education appropriate to diverse police audiences, emphasizes a systems approach to police/mental health liaison activities and addresses issues related to the delivery and implementation of police education and training.