Researchers at the University of Alberta reported the development of a new one day training program for police in the March 18, 2013, issue of the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry that resulted in officers being more likely to quickly identify mental health issues during a call and less likely to use physical force or a weapon in those situations.
The training resulted in long term behavior change in the officers and saved the police force money because mental health related calls were dealt with more efficiently.
A 40 percent increase in officers' abilities to recognize mental health issues as the reason for a call, a decrease in the use of physical force or weapons when officers interacted with those who were mentally ill, and more efficiency when officers dealt with calls involving mental health issues were noted as immediate results of the program that costs $118 (U. S.) per policeman.
Principal investigator, Peter Silverstone, noted that studies in Canada and the U. K. have found that 37-48 per cent of people fatally shot by police had underlying mental health issues.
The recent (October 6, 2012) killing of Gil Collar, 18, of Wetumpka Alabama by a campus police officer at the University of South Alabama is one example of a shooting by police officers in Alabama that could have been avoided.