Press Release: Nat'l Leaders in Law Enforcement Agree on Mental Health, Justice System Solutions

  National Leaders in Law Enforcement Agree on Mental Health, Justice System Solutions

The nation’s first response to mental health crises is often dangerous for all involved, say experts.

April 10, 2019 – (DENVER, COLO.) – The way we currently address mental health amounts to a public health crisis, say law enforcement department and policy leaders. The lack of access to mental health care for many communities places an overwhelming burden of mental health crisis management on public safety agencies. Law enforcement experts have just released a priority list for community-based reforms, produced in collaboration with The Equitas Project, a non-profit organization working nationally at the intersection of mental health and criminal justice.

"Jails and prisons are not designed to be mental health facilities. Police are not trained to be social workers or counselors, and the criminal system is no place for people with mental illnesses. We have to seriously reinvest in proper mental health programs - both for those who need our help and so law enforcement can focus on solving crimes," said Police Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

“Chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecutors all over the country agree that there is more communities can do to produce better outcomes for more people. Arrest and incarceration should not be the nation’s primary tools for managing mental health. Health care, housing, and education all have bigger roles to play,” explained Vincent Atchity, The Equitas Project’s Executive Director.

The document, which lists over 50 areas for improvement, emphasizes the urgency of these issues and identifies ways of addressing them. Authors of the document include national experts and top-ranking officials representing agencies from major cities and counties in every region of the country. Urgent recommendations for smarter and more cost-effective approaches to supporting the health and wellbeing for Americans include specific strategies for:

  • Enhancing access to affordable, high quality mental and physical health services
  • Reducing homelessness
  • Mobilizing local leadership
  • Adopting crisis response policies that emphasize de-escalation, violence prevention, and “co-response” models which deploy both law enforcement and clinician responders together
  • Promoting wellness within each public safety agency
  • Promoting health-based alternatives to arrest, incarceration, and criminal charges for individuals in need of mental health support and care.
Read the Document

The Law Enforcement Action Partnership and the Equitas Project are joined by the following groups in releasing this announcement:

American Conservative Union Foundation
Broomfield Police Department, Colorado
CIT International
Cook County Sheriff's Office
Denver District Attorney’s Office
Fair and Just Prosecution
Houston Police Department
LEAD National Support Bureau
Lima Police Department, Ohio
The Longmont Department of Public Safety, Colorado
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office
Long Beach City Prosecutor's Office
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
National Association of Counties

Please visit The Equitas Project’s website for more information on the Course Corrections: National Law Enforcement Summit and document (including all signatories), plus tools for sharing this list with leaders and constituents in your community.

For more information, or to arrange an interview Equitas, or the above-named organizations regarding this update, please contact Gwendolyn West at either 303-789-2664 x210 or

The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) is a nonprofit group of police, judges, prosecutors, and other criminal justice professionals who use their expertise to advance public safety solutions. LEAP’s more than 230 law enforcement representatives from diverse backgrounds speak on behalf of thousands of law enforcement professionals across the U.S.
Twitter: @PoliceForReform
Instagram: @LEActionPartnership