Policing the Mentally Ill

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Course Author(s)

Randy Means J.D. - Randy Means & Associates (randymeans.com)


Estimated Seat Time
60 Minutes

View Syllabus

Course Summary

Police deal with the mentally ill and the emotionally disturbed regularly and in situations that can be very challenging and sometimes quite dangerous.  

This training will focus on policing the mentally ill and also on dealing with persons whose abnormal mental state is caused not by mental illness but by the situation in which they find themselves. In either event, police often are dealing with someone who is not handling emotion in a normal way. 

It is emotion, not logic, that drives most human behavior. When the emotional basis for dealing with reality is altered by a mental illness or other adverse circumstance, human behavior becomes even less predictable than usual. That heightened unpredictability always adds to the level of danger for police officers.  

When dealing with “normal” or “routine” calls, officers have an idea of what to expect and share similar sets of perceptions with others involved in the call. However, when dealing with a person suffering a severe mental illness, there is nothing that can be considered “normal” or “routine.”  Always use caution. Take nothing for granted, even if you have dealt with the subject previously. 

This course is comprehensive. Some of the topics discussed in this course are: 

  • Definitions and symptoms of insanity and mental illness
  • Common misperceptions concerning mental illness
  • Fear and confusion
  • Psychotropic medications
  • Chronic mental illness and situational “mental illness”
  • Persons who are psychotic
  • Antisocial personality and character disorders
  • Tools for recognizing the sociopath
  • Interaction with the mentally ill
  • Communicating with the mentally ill
  • Nonverbal communication and paralanguage
  • Practicing communicative techniques
  • Keeping communication straightforward
  • Building rapport first

As a corrections officer, the more informed you are, the more you can focus on the protecting the rights of inmates and detainees.

Course Syllabus

  • Module 1: Mental Illness in General

    • Course Introduction
    • Introduction to Policing the Mentally Ill and Emotionally Disturbed
    • Definitions and Symptoms of Insanity and Mental Illness
    • Common Misperceptions Concerning Mental Illness
    • Sudden Onset and Undiagnosed Disease
    • Fear and Confusion
    • Psychotropic Medications
    • Changing and Stopping Psychotropic Drugs
    • More on Psychotropic Medications
    • Module Assessment
  • Module 2: Types of Mental Illness

    • Module Introduction
    • Chronic and Situational Mental Illness
    • Neurotic Individuals
    • Persons Who Are Psychotic
    • Antisocial Personality and Character Disorders
    • Tools for Recognizing the Sociopath
    • Common Mental Health Diagnosis and Symptoms
    • Module Assessment
  • Module 3: Interacting With the Mentally Ill

    • Module Introduction
    • Interaction with the Mentally Ill
    • Special Considerations in Communicating
    • Nonverbal Communication and Paralanguage
    • Practicing Communicative Technique
    • More on Communicating with the Mentally Ill
    • Keeping Communication Straightforward
    • Controlling Numbers and Types of Participants
    • Building Rapport First
    • Conflicting Goals
    • Finishing the Call
    • Module Assessment
  • Final Assessment: Policing the Mentally Ill

    • Module Assessment
  • The Cop Doc: Dr. Daniel Rudofossi

    • Introduction
    • Neurotic Individuals
    • Persons Who Are Chaotic
    • Little Old Lady
    • Persons who are Suicidal
  • Excited Delirium

    • Excited Delirium Part 1
    • Excited Delirium Part 2
    • Excited Delirium Part 3
    • Module Assessment