Police-Mental Health Partnership

The police-mental health partnership melds law enforcement officers’ expertise in community policing with clinic-based mental health professionals’ knowledge of the psychological and emotional consequences that follow exposure to violence. Police, school, and community mental health professionals gain awareness of children’s perceived sources of danger and a deeper understanding of the issues facing children in the community. With this knowledge, community leaders can implement changes in the community that address both children’s individual concerns and the danger they face in their neighborhood.

An integral part of the Community Outreach through Police in Schools Program is this police-mental health partnership. Police officers who work in the children’s community are familiar with the conditions children face on a daily basis. By pairing a trained mental health professional with a community police officer to act as group coleaders, the program provides a unique approach to violence prevention. Through this collaborative intervention it is hoped that children will better understand the way their feelings affect their behavior, develop constructive means of responding to violence and trauma, and change their attitudes toward police and how to seek help in their community.

During the weekly program sessions, schoolchildren establish real relationships with police officers. These interactions lead to changes in attitudes toward police and their role in the community. Children’s feelings of safety and protection are enhanced as they become able to identify and internalize the positive, prosocial attributes that the officers embody.

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Community Outreach through Police In Schools
August 2003