Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department agents and officers are making efforts to improve responses to incidents involving individuals with mental illness, according to a GAO report.
The report found that all federal law enforcement officers and agents from DHS and DoJ were involved in some kind of training to enhance responses to incidents with individuals with mental illness. GAO also highlighted DoJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance , a program that supports initiatives within law enforcement and has developed resources such as its Police Mental Health Collaboration Toolkit. BJA is also supporting a national training and technical assistance center.
GAO found that while DHS and DoJ have different missions and varying interactions with the public, their training efforts almost all focused on de-escalation and communication. The report also found that both agencies planned to review their policies and training around the challenges and implement any changes in 2018.
GAO conducted the study because it is required to review the practices that first responders, tactical units and corrections officers use under the 21st Century Cures Act. It selected five components across DHS and DoJ to review for the purpose of the study.