Police Perceptions of Training on Interactions with Persons with Mental Illness

Meya Richmond, Jennifer C. Gibbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Persons with mental illness (PMI) often come into contact with police, sometimes simply because their mental illness is manifesting in their behaviors. At the same time, many officers in the USA lack the proper training to handle situations involving PMI, which can result in deadly outcomes. Police need effective training in mental health education and de-escalation techniques for interactions with PMI. However, little is known about whether officers are receiving the training they believe they need. The purpose of this study is to explore police officers’ perceptions on whether the training they have received is helpful during situations with PMI. A sample of 217 men and women who are currently working in policing agencies in Pennsylvania were interviewed between February and April 2019. Results show that the majority (55.6%) of police officers surveyed frequently interact with PMI and only 21.8% of officers were trained in de-escalation techniques specifically for incidents involving PMI. Although officers felt prepared to handle situations, those who had more experience on the job tended to feel more prepared to handle such situations (p < 0.10).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-275
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Law


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