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Improving interactions between the police and people living with mental illness

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Evidence suggests that interactions between people with mental illness (PMI) and police officers in British Columbia are strained. While programs exist to improve these interactions, they vary by police detachment, and consequently are inconsistent throughout the province. To determine how these interactions could best be ameliorated, I conducted 17 semi-structured interviews with mental health providers, lawyers, and police officers. All participants worked in the Lower Mainland; however, participants with experience in Surrey or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were favoured. This information was then used to conduct a policy analysis of three options. Due to resource considerations, the policy options I analyzed are relevant for police detachments in cities with more than 20,000 people. The final results of my analysis indicated that police detachments should prioritize training 25 percent of a detachment’s general patrol officers in the Crisis Intervention Team Training program.
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