Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Police services for the mentally ill, Police training, Police psychology, Mentally ill offenders, Police, Mental-illness, Law-enforcement, Policing, Persons with mental-illness, Police-Attitudes


This study was designed to explore the experiences of urban and suburban police officers who encounter persons with mental illness in their communities. The focus was on the issues of training, attitudes, and action when responding to calls involving the mentally ill. Specifically, this project targeted the experiences of police officers with at least one year on the force. Police officers came from two police departments in two different neighborhoods. Interviews were completed with 12 police officers of different backgrounds. Officers answered twenty-one Likert scale type questions addressing their experiences with the mentally ill and mental health agencies, in addition to three open-ended questions about challenges they face, changes they believe would improve outcomes for the mentally ill and incidents they'd faced with PwMI. The findings of the study showed that participants were able identify a broad range of obstacles to their work with PwMI and offer many useful suggestions for how to improve collaboration with local mental health professionals. Of further significance, while officers expressed frustration with the situations involving PwMI, their attitudes and beliefs about the mentally ill in general were quite positive.




iii, 75 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 65)