Mental Health Investigations and Training
People who live with mental illness are among the most vulnerable members of our community. The Lincoln Police Department recognizes that caring for these individuals requires additional and ongoing training for police officers, collaboration between police officers and mental health workers, and programs that people with mental illnesses during and after contact with police. For many years, we have placed a strong emphasis on properly training and equipping our officers with the tools they need to effectively assist individuals living with mental illness. LPD has partnered with the Mental Health Association of Nebraska, CenterPointe, Families Inspiring Families, the Targeted Adult Service Coordination (TASC) program, and more to offer a full array of options to those struggling with mental illness. We are extremely fortunate to team up with these organizations to maximize the benefit to our community. This kind of collaboration is a good example of the approach LPD takes to addressing problems in our community.
In 2020, we also added a new position for a Mental Health Response Coordinator. This coordinator focuses on mental health investigations handled by LPD. The coordinator ensures the investigations are handled correctly, coordinates with outside mental health agencies to provide wrap-around services for high users of police services, and follows up with ongoing mental health cases. This position is a valuable addition to the innovative mental health response program at LPD and ensures that our department continues to meet established nationwide best practices for mental health response.
In 2022, LPD officers responded to approximately 3,514 mental health calls for service. Out of all of those calls for service, officers placed 329 individuals, or 9.4%, into emergency protective custody. This means that in more than 90% of these incidents, officers were able to find alternative options for assisting the person dealing with mental illness. This high utilization rate of voluntary mental health resources demonstrates that the training and resources available to LPD officers is beneficial in improving the lives of those we serve. LPD officers receive mental health investigation training while attending the basic academy. After graduation, mental health topics are regularly discussed during required training for veteran officers. There is also available outside training opportunities that officers attend. One of the most common courses is BETA Training administered by Region V Systems. This detailed course trains officers on behavior health issues as well as how to identify and assess possible threats to individuals' safety.
LPD officers are not only well trained to handle mental health calls for service, they are also very experienced. The combination of thorough training, quality resources, and strong experience puts LPD in a strong position when called upon to help those living with mental illness.