Police officers are often the first responders to individuals in crises. Understanding the dynamic interaction between police and persons living with mental illness is critical to developing interventions and appropriate services for this population. Using procedural justice theory, this study involves a qualitative thematic analysis of interviews conducted with 60 people living with mental illness regarding their interactions with police officers. The results indicate that common factors influence how the experience is evaluated and contributes to individual perceptions of police. These include experiences of stigma, having a voice, respect, compassion, and the use of violence. Participants identify mental health education as an important element of police training while also emphasizing the need for increased collaboration between police and health authorities. This study finds support for procedural justice theory insofar as the way that the participants were treated aside from the outcome, mattered in their overall perception of police legitimacy.
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Thesis advisor: Verdun-Jones, Simon
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