Recommendations for Agency and Community Leaders

  • Agency and community leaders should specifically plan for—and fund—the training of law enforcement and threat assessment team members to determine and execute proper follow-up actions.
  • The documentation systems supporting the handling of initial reports and threat assessments should track what follow-up actions were decided on, to whom actions were assigned, at what point reports on the results of the follow-up actions are expected back, and when the next follow-up assessment meetings will be.
  • To the extent possible, agency and community leaders need to develop strategies and programs to provide mental health care services to individuals who pose chronic threats to themselves and others. What can be done will vary by state and applicable laws.
    • Our experts and advisors noted that mental health is often not being addressed with a view to the long term. Law enforcement might drop someone off for an involuntary hold, and the longest that person can be held in a medical facility for mental health evaluation and treatment is typically 72 hours. The person may be medicated in that time, but then they are released. As the medications wear off and there is no access to continuing care, the person's mental state could deteriorate and might get worse. The cycle continues with no long-term plan, and law enforcement is once again put into the position to address the problem. See the case example below as a real-world exemplar of what can go wrong.
  • In general, agency and community leaders should identify and support programs in their areas that get help to people who are at risk for violence as early as possible; these are reliable follow-up actions to provide support services.

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