On its front page, the New York Times (4/2, A1, Santos, Goode, Subscription Publication) reports in a 1,500-word story “on the growing number of people with severe mental disorders who, in the absence of adequate mental health services, are coming in contact with the criminal justice system, sometimes with deadly consequences.”
Across the US, “police officers find themselves playing dual roles as law enforcers and psychiatric social workers.” Unfortunately, some mental health crises can be made worse by fearful or reflexive actions taken by police officers. For that reason, some cities have established mental health crisis intervention units or have at least “put in place training for officers in how to deal with mentally ill people, teaching them to defuse potentially volatile situations and to treat people who suffer from psychiatric illnesses with respect.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about one in 17 people living in the US may have a mental illness of a serious nature.
— “Police Confront Rising Number of Mentally Ill Suspects,” Fernando Santos, New York Times, April 1, 2014.