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Los Angeles Police Department Mental Evaluation Unit
The Los Angeles Police Department Mental Evaluation Unit, including the Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team (SMART), is a component of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) that works with people suspected of having mental illness.
The LAPD has deployed a Mental Evaluation Unit (MEU) for over four decades to help uniformed field personnel manage mental health crisis issues. In January 1993, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) and the LAPD enhanced the MEU operation by committing personnel and resources to staff the Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team (SMART) within the City of Los Angeles. These co-deployed field response units formed the basis of the initial 1993 Mental Illness Project.
From its inception the Mental Illness Project employed a co-response model. This means that police officers and mental health clinicians are housed out of the same building and respond to calls as a team.  As a specialized mental health-law enforcement response unit, the greatest challenge was to take professionals from diverging disciplines working towards similar goals and develop them as a team. This was accomplished by developing the relationship and buy-in of each of the team members. Special attention was given to familiarization and cross training of roles and responsibilities each team member is responsible for when responding to calls for service involving persons suffering from a mental health crisis. It is this unique development of the team that allows the officers to think like a mental health clinician and a mental health clinician to understand the role of law enforcement. Ultimately, this has developed into a holistic approach to managing calls for service involving persons suffering from a mental illness and or a mental health crisis. Officers and clinicians develop management schemes which employ an array of options from referrals for service, hospitalization and or management of the subject within the jail system. The co-response/co-deployment model is integrated into all facets of the LAPD mental illness response strategy.
In 2005, the Case Assessment Management Program (CAMP) was added to the MEU and the Mental Illness Project as a specialized mental illness investigative follow-up team. Staffed by sworn investigators and LACDMH clinicians, its primary function is to identify those persons suffering from a mental illness, who are recidivist high utilizers of emergency services (make frequent use of police and fire emergency services) and/or who are at risk for violent encounters with police officers, e.g. Target School Violence, Suicide Jumpers, and Suicide by Cop (SbC).
In April 2008, the Los Angeles Police Department Threat Management Unit (LAPD TMU) teamed up to co-deploy with the MEU due to the fact that stalking suspects often suffer from some form of mental instability, and workplace violence suspects experience some form of mental health crisis when they make threats and when they are engaging in acts of violence. Both the MEU and TMU comprise the Crisis Response Support Section (CRSS). 
The MEU strategy has been referenced in several governmental publications on model programs noted for innovations, published by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. In October 2010, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) selected MEU as one of six learning sites for the Specialized Policing Responses: Law Enforcement/Mental Health Learning Sites project. http://www.consensusproject.org/learningsites http://consensusproject.org/issue_areas/law-enforcement
Area of Focus
The MEU mission is to reduce the potential for violence during police contacts involving people suffering from mental illness while simultaneously assessing the mental health services available to assist them. This requires a commitment to problem solving, partnership, and supporting a coordinated effort from law enforcement, mental health services and the greater community of Los Angeles.  
The MEU is responsible for:
- Maintaining files on all Department requests for psychiatric examinations.
- Coordinating and dispatching SMART units Citywide by way of the MEU Triage Dispatch Center. Prioritization of calls will be determined by the MEU based on clinical judgement. Criteria for crisis response shall not be limited solely to the situations involving 5150 WIC.
- Providing a preliminary intervention when there is probable cause to believe a non-sworn department employee may be mentally disordered and requires an involuntary commitment or other meaningful intervention.
- Conducting the preliminary investigation and processing of a suspected escapee from a mental institution.
- Coordinating the assignment of the State of California, Department of Mental Health, Apprehension and Transportation Orders.
- Maintaining files and monitoring Mentally Disordered Persons (MDP) who are on Forensic Conditional Release (ConRep).
- Providing roll call training relative to MEU and SMART responsibilities.
- Maintaining liaison with the Missing Persons Unit to determine if a missing person has been placed on a 72-hour hold.
- Providing mental health background and information to the Incident Commanders during critical incidents.
- Preventing unnecessary incarceration and hospitalization of mentally ill individuals.
- Providing alternate care in the least restrictive environment through a coordinated and comprehensive systemwide approach.
- Preventing the duplication of mental health services.
- Providing support to the Los Angeles Police Department Threat Management Unit. 
The CAMP has primary follow up and case management responsibility for mentally ill persons who:
- are the focus of a barricaded suspect scenario and who have been placed on a mental health hold.
- had been placed on a minimum of twelve mental health holds within one year and has been the focus of repeated contacts with the LAPD. The catalyst of these contacts shall be the subjectâ€™s mental health history. Each case shall be evaluated independently and twelve contacts shall only used as a threshold for accepting cases.
- had numerous contact with the LAPD and members of the community where the subjectâ€™s behavior has become increasingly violent due to mental illness.
- has attempted suicide at the hands of law enforcement or has been the target of a use of force.
Response strategies contained within CAMP are:
- School Threat Assessment Response Team (START).
- Returning Veterans Strategy. 
- Mentally Ill 8102 WIC Prohibited Possessor Tracking System /Mental Health Court Liaison.
- Conditional Release Program (ConRep).
- Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) Debrief Strategy. 
The MEU has developed numerous courses of instruction, that have enhanced the emergency responderâ€™s abilities to properly respond to and manage calls involving persons suffering from a mental illness. In June 2008, the MEU established a Training Unit. The Unit's training curriculum includes:
- Crisis Intervention Training.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Supervisor School and Watch Commander School.
- Course for Dispatch Personnel.
- Detention Academy.
- Autism Course. 
- Department Autism Support Group.
- Roll Call Training.
- Community Outreach.
The MEU has been the subject of several governmental publications on model programs noted for innovations.
National Publications: 
- A Guide to Implementing Police-Based Diversion Programs for People with Mental Illness, by Melissa Reuland, Police Executive Research Forum - 2004 
- Enhancing Success of Police-Based Diversion Programs for People with Mental Illness, by Melissa Reuland and Jason Cheney, Police Executive Research Forum â€“ May 2005 
- Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses, Strategies for Effective Law Enforcement Training 2008.
- Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses, The Essential Elements of a Specialized Law Enforcementâ€“Based Program, 2008. 
- Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Law Enforcement Responses to People with Mental Illness, A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice, 2009. 
- Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses, Tailoring Law Enforcement Initiatives to Individual Jurisdictions, 2010. 
- Consent Decree Mental illness Reports. 
On September 3, 1991, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors convened the Incarcerated Mentally Ill Task Force (IMITF). This IMITF was composed of concerned governmental and private agencies and was charged with addressing growing public concerns about the increased forced hospitalization and incarceration of mentally ill citizens.
In July 1992, the IMITF findings concluded that there was a societal failure to adequately meet the needs of the countyâ€™s mentally ill population. The task forceâ€™s primary recommendation to resolve this problem was the implementation of a SMART pilot program. Each SMART team would be composed of a well-trained mental health expert and a law enforcement expert, with mobile capabilities.
In January 1993, the LACDMH and the LAPD committed personnel and resources to staff SMART in the City of Los Angeles.
In June 2001 the City of Los Angeles entered into a Consent Decree with the Department of Justice, to â€œ promote police integrity and prevent conduct that deprives persons of their rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.â€ The Consent Decree required an evaluation of LAPDâ€™s current policies, procedures, and practices related to police encounters with persons who may have a mental illness and search for successful program models in other law enforcement agencies.
The Department established a Central Authority and the Mental Health Crisis Response Program (MHCRP). The authority of the MHCRP was centralized by the Assistant Commanding Officer, Detective Bureau, who acts as the MHCRP Coordinator. In this capacity, the MHCRP Coordinator oversees the Departmentâ€™s overall response to persons with suspected mental illnesses. The duties of the Mental Illness Project (MIP) Coordinator have been assigned to a Lieutenant II at Detective Support and Vice Division (DSVD) who has full-time oversight of the various Department programs that are dedicated to the response to persons with suspected mental illnesses.
During 2006, the Independent Monitor for the LAPD noted in its quarterly report ending March 31, 2006, that â€œMEU has made significant advances in its program during the last two years.â€ The Independent Monitor commended the tremendous progress made by and continued efforts of the Department and, especially the dedication of the Consent Decree Mental Illness Project Coordinator and MEU staff.
In the subsequent report ending June 30, 2006, the Independent Monitor for the LAPD found that the Department had achieved substantial compliance with all requirements from Paragraphs 111-113 of the Consent Decree. The MEU was the first component to be found in compliance with the mandates of the Federal Consent Decree imposed on the LAPD by the United States Department of Justice.
The Final Report, issued June 11, 2009, from the Office of the Independent Monitor of the LAPD, states, â€œThe MEU has made significant advances in its program during the full term of the Consent Decree, and the LAPD continues to be in the national forefront of this important policing issue. The Monitor commends the Department and the dedication of those individuals who have been involved and associated with the LAPDâ€™s Mental Health Project.â€ The report continues under recommendations, â€œSimply put, the LAPD should continue what it has been doing.â€
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