The world’s largest law enforcement organization this week endorsed court-ordered treatment in the community for at-risk individuals with severe mental illness.
Voting at their annual convention in Florida, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) endorsed unanimously, the “authorization, implementation, appropriate funding, and consistent use of assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) laws to ensure treatment in the least restrictive setting possible for individuals whose illness prevents them from otherwise accessing such care voluntarily.” The IACP represents more than 20,000 members in more than 100 countries.
"AOT will help those who need help the most get the treatment they need, which will improve outcomes for this population and reduce the burden on law enforcement," said Chief of Police Richard Beary, IACP's president.
The IACP joins the National Sheriffs’ Association on record in support of AOT, which the U.S. Department of Justice has deemed an evidence-based practice for reducing crime and violence.
“Untreated severe mental illness is highly associated with arrest and incarceration,” said Chief of Police Michael Biasotti, a member of the Treatment Advocacy Center board of directors who championed the resolution. “A disproportionate number of these individuals are ending up in the criminal justice system when they should be receiving treatment.
“We expect AOT to reduce the burden of untreated severe mental illness on law enforcement and also produce taxpayer savings,” he said. “This tool will help increase law enforcement capacity and return the care of the most severely ill to the mental illness treatment system.”
The Treatment Advocacy Center in 2012 published excerpts from a study by Biasotti on the impact of untreated mental illness on law enforcement. The Treatment Advocacy Center has also served as a resource on this issue by publishing the following reports about the intersection of the criminal justice system and untreated severe mental illness:
• Justifiable homicides by law enforcement officers: What is the role of mental illness?
• Prevalence of mental health diversion tactics: A survey of the states