Heroes in Specialized Policing – Mental Health Unit L.A.P.D.

Police and the mentally ill: LAPD unit praised as model for nation

The LAPD mental health detail represents a type of specialized policing that’s gaining traction as law enforcement agencies nationwide struggle with how best to handle those in crisis. The task is a challenging one. Minor encounters can quickly escalate out of control even when officers have some mental health training,  as was the case with last week’s killing of a man by LAPD officers on Skid Row. (The Mental Evaluation Unit was not involved in the Skid Row incident.)

The unit, which is the  largest and among the oldest mental health policing programs in the nation, is highly regarded by law enforcement and by mental health and civil rights advocates.  A 2009 report by the LAPD’s independent federal monitor praised the operation, saying the department “now has the recognized best practice in law enforcement for this subject area,” and is “in the national forefront of this important policing issue.”


Grace Bescoby, a registered nurse and mental health counselor on the Mental Evaluation Unit’s SMART team, looks for possible hospitals where the man in custody could be taken in at the LAPD’s Rampart Division on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.


Caption: Detective Jim Hoffman, left, checks in with Officer Dennis Nguyen during a call at Park La Brea Apartments on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Nguyen and Hoffman are part of the LAPD’s Mental Evaluation Unit. (Maya Sugarman/KPCC)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s