Police officers are often called upon to respond to complex, time consuming calls involving individuals with mental illness. Although the vast majority of these contacts end peacefully, the risk of injury to the officer, the individual, and community members is high. In order to facilitate the best possible outcome, the Portland Police Department has developed a comprehensive, innovative specialized behavioral health response program. Portland’s specialized behavioral health response capabilities includes:
Justice and Mental Health Collaborative
The Portland Police Department is proud to be recognized by the Council of State Governments Justice Center as one of just six law enforcement/mental health learning sites nationwide. Law enforcement agencies may obtain sample forms here.
A full-time behavioral health coordinator who supervises and manages a robust co-responder program, facilitates crisis intervention training for officers, and collaborates with other providers to facilitate system wide improvements.
A liaison from Opportunity Alliance who works full-time as a co-responder. The liaison is dispatched to calls for service, conducts crisis assessments and stabilization of psychotic, homicidal, and/or suicidal subjects. He conducts follow-ups and referrals and serves as a conduit between PPD and behavioral health providers.
Master’s level interns from the University of Southern Maine Clinical Counseling Program. Working under the supervision of the mental health coordinator, interns respond to behavioral health related calls for service alongside officers, conduct follow-ups and provide referrals to mental health providers. Interns work part-time in a non-pay status gaining invaluable hands-on experience while meeting degree requirements.
Crisis intervention training for police officers. Almost all Portland Police officers have received specialized training to improve their response to behavioral health related calls. CIT, which was implemented in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Maine, emphasizes de-escalation and diversion from the criminal justice system into the health care system.
For more information on the Council of State Governments/U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance Criminal Justice and Mental Health Learning sites, including information on how to request technical assistance from the Portland Police Department, please visit the CSG website.