LAPD’s Nationally Recognized Mental Evaluation Unit to Receive Prestigious Award from the Forensic Mental Health Association of California Los Angeles: The Forensic Mental Health Association of California (FMHAC) will present the Christine M. West Award to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Mental Evaluation Unit (MEU) for extraordinary contributions to the field of Forensic Mental Health. The award will be presented to LAPD officials on March 16, 2016, at FMHAC’s annual conference in Monterey, California.
Established in 1981, FMHAC’s mission is to promote forensic mental health standards and goals throughout the state of California and to ensure the continuation of an ongoing forum for education on forensic mental health and related issues. The West Award, named after the late Christine M. West, former Director of San Francisco’s Jail Psychiatric Services, recognizes exceptional contributions to forensic mental health education, clinical treatment, research, and program development.
The MEU is a joint effort of the LAPD and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LADMH), which pairs specially trained law enforcement personnel and mental health clinicians to assist officers in the field. Those co-deployed teams are called System-wide Mental Assessment Response Teams (SMART) and are deployed throughout the City to respond to mental health crisis incidents in the field. Chief Beck, with the assistance of LADMH, is in the process of more than doubling the number of SMART teams by the end of 2016 from 7 units per day to 17 units per day to deal with the growing population of mentally ill who experience an acute mental health crisis that requires police response.
In 2015, MEU personnel assisted with 16,494 calls for service involving victims and suspects with mental illness; the MEU SMART teams responded to 5,552 calls. The MEU also provides ongoing mental illness training to new and experienced officers that teaches skills to more effectively deal with the mentally ill and their families.
“Addressing the challenges we face in trying to help people suffering from mental health crises is a top priority for the LAPD especially when the police are requested to help in an unpredictable and volatile situation,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. “The LAPD is honored to receive this award for the extraordinary work our officers and LADMH partners in MEU perform every day to help those in need in the City of Los Angeles.”