Why Is It Important For Officers To Be Trained In The Police Response To Emotionally Disturbed Persons

Encounters with EDP’s are frequent and sensitive police interactions. Dealing with people who are emotionally disturbed requires a high degree of skill and sensitivity. In these situations, thoughtless or hasty police actions may quickly make things worse, causing EDP’s to act in ways that require officers to use force that might otherwise have been avoided. Most EDP calls turn out to involve people who are neither a danger to themselves or others. Nevertheless, police are called to respond to a large number of cases that are dangerous or that, if improperly handled, could quickly become dangerous. Police response to EDP situations requires specialized skills and training. Knowing how to communicate verbally and non-verbally, and knowing how to intervene tactfully and sensitively can dramatically enhance the likelihood that situations involving the EDP will be resolved safely and effectively. As police, we are responsible for getting such people to mental health professionals, but we also have other responsibilities. These responsibilities include protecting the lives and safety of EDPS’s, protecting the lives and safety of other innocent people and protecting the lives and safety of us as officers. Just how common are calls for service when dealing with EDP’s:

  • 1 in 5 adults suffers from a recognized mental disorder.
  • About 10% of all adults may have a personality disorder.
  • The 3 most common disorders in order of incidence are anxiety, substance abuse, and depression
  • Only 1 out of 5 people with a mental disorder seek professional help. 
  • Women tend to suffer from phobias and depression, whereas men tend to have problems with alcohol and drugs and antisocial behavior.
  • The rates of mental problems are higher for those under 45.
  • College graduates tend to be less prone to mental disorders than those who do not graduate from college.
  • Most people diagnosed with mental illness have never been hospitalized and do not need in-patient care.
  • The main reason for hospital admissions nationwide is an exacerbation of a psychiatric disorder.
  • At any time, almost 21% of all hospital beds are filled with people with mental illness.
  • Mental illness is more common than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.
  • Mental illness can range from mild to severe.
  • Like other members of the community, mentally ill people may be professionals, office workers, laborers, homemakers, children, elderly people, or people who depend on welfare and other social services for survival.  
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