THE BLOG
10/31/2014 08:34 pm ET Updated Dec 31, 2014

Major Police Group: Mandated Treatment Can Help Some Mentally Ill

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) approved a resolution calling for greater use of mandated treatment, commonly known as assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), at their annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. Research shows that AOT reduces arrest, suicide, involuntary hospitalization and violence by the most seriously mentally ill, all of which require a police response.

AOT allows judges to order a small group of the most seriously ill to stay in six months of mandated and monitored treatment while they live in the community. It is limited to those who have already accumulated multiple episodes of homelessness, hospitalization, violence, arrest or incarceration associated with going off treatment. U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania) included funding for AOT in the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 3717). The National Sheriff's Association, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) previously endorsed AOT.

There are now 10 times as many mentally ill incarcerated as hospitalized. New Windsor, New York, Police Chief Michael Biasotti conducted a survey of 2,400 senior law enforcement officers and recently told
Congress
:

We have two mental health systems today, serving two mutually exclusive populations: Community programs serve those who seek and accept treatment. Those who refuse, or are too sick to seek treatment voluntarily, become a law enforcement responsibility.

He believes AOT will help return care and treatment of the seriously mentally ill back to the mental health system, where it belongs. Chief Michael Biasotti and outgoing IACP President Yost Zakhary were responsible for obtaining the IACP endorsement.