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Law Enforcement Training and Policy — Mental Illness and Use of Force

Law enforcement officers are facing ever-increasing use of force incidents, including deadly force incidents, involving persons who are mentally ill, in a mental health crisis or incapacitated. Such individuals may have diminished capacity for reasonable decision-making so that the person is unable to properly respond to an officer's commands and make rational decisions in response to those commands.

Leading police experts call for effective training and policy that incorporates best practices for an officer's response to persons with mental illness or incapacitation issues. The most important law enforcement policy and training objective when dealing with a person suffering from mental illness or in a mental health crisis, is to stabilize, calm and de-escalate the situation, when circumstances allow, and then determine the best course of action for both the citizen and the community.