Management of the severely mentally ill and its effects on homeland security
Biasotti, Michael C.
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As a result of the events of September 11, 2001, law enforcement agencies nationwide have been assigned a plethora of terrorism prevention and recovery related duties. Many federal documents outline and emphasize duties and responsibilities pertaining to local law enforcement. The prevention of acts of terrorism within communities has become a focal point of patrol activities for state and local police agencies. Simultaneously, local law enforcement is dealing with the unintended consequences of a policy change that in effect removed the daily care of our nation's severely mentally ill population from the medical community and placed it with the criminal justice system. This policy change has caused a spike in the frequency of arrests of severely mentally ill persons, prison and jail population and the homeless population. A nationwide survey of 2,406 senior law enforcement officials conducted within this paper indicates that the deinstitutionalization of the severely mentally ill population has become a major consumer of law enforcement resources nationwide. This paper argues that highly cost-effective policy recommendations exist that would assist in correcting the current situation, which is needlessly draining law enforcement resources nationwide, thereby allowing sorely needed resources to be directed toward this nation's homeland security concerns.
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