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Enhancing Police Response to Persons in Mental Health Crisis: Providing Strategies, Communication Techniques, and Crisis Intervention Preparation in Overcoming Institutional Challenges.

Enhancing Police Response to Persons in Mental Health Crisis: Providing Strategies, Communication Techniques, and Crisis Intervention Preparation in Overcoming Institutional Challenges by Don W. Castellano-Hoyt, Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, Illinois, 2003.

This work is best suited for law enforcement administrators and field supervisors who want to understand persons with mental illness and their interactions with officers. For the last 15 to 20 years, articles have been written and lectures given about this topic but few books have appeared. Enhancing Police Response to Persons in Mental Health Crisis fills that void. The author presents a basic overview of major mental illnesses, a discussion of the interaction between persons with mental illness and police officers, and a frank account from a person personally familiar with both the mental health and criminal justice systems. Training over 7,000 police officers regarding persons with mental illness and serving as a negotiator in over 200 barricade situations, some involving SWAT, the author has become intimately familiar with crisis negotiation. The commander of the San Antonio Police Department's Crisis Negotiations Unit has told him many times during crisis negotiations that "you're the expert here. Tell me how much longer before this fellow will surrender." Don Castellano-Hoyt knows that in such situations, there is "no time for deferring the diagnosis or consulting a manual."

The book contains 16 chapters and 291 pages of practical information that may be read in its entirety or chapter by chapter. One chapter contains information that a police administrator could present in small amounts at daily roll calls. The author includes real-life scenarios in each chapter that come from his personal experience. These would make great discussion topics. The book has chapters regarding specific mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia (chapter 3) and depression (chapter 4). It also offers chapters about police officers executing mental health crisis interventions (chapter 5), suicide interventions (chapter 6), and emergency detention (chapter 8). Chapters concerning dealing with special populations (chapter 7) and communicating with persons with mental illness (chapter 9) provide practical techniques for field officers. Chapter 10 includes a discussion of psychiatric diagnoses and the manual used to make them.

The end of the book contains a list of each state and the District of Columbia covering statutes defining mental illness, nonpeace officer detention, and provisions for emergency detention. This book is concise, practical, easy to read, and written by someone knowledgeable about law enforcement officers and persons with mental illness. The author comes across as interested in solving real-life problems. He also is concerned for both officers and mental health consumers, which is refreshing and gives the book integrity. It is this integrity that will cause the reader to want to complete Don Castellano-Hoyt's book and refer to it in the future.

Reviewed by Dr. Daniel W. Phillips Assistant professor of sociology and criminology Lindsey Wilson College Columbia, Kentucky
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Author:Phillips, Daniel W.
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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