A police research organization in the Nation's Capital, headed by former Redlands Police Chief Jim Bueermann, on Tuesday touted its efforts to address mental health-related gun violence.
Bueermann is now president of the Police Foundation in Washington, D.C. The Redlands Police Department is a research partner with the foundation.
The Police Foundation on Monday convened a group of professionals from "law enforcement, science, mental health, and policy arenas to focus on mental health-related gun violence," according to a news release.
The foundation held its meeting of experts Jan. 14, one month after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., against a backdrop including the "complex ongoing political debate about the role of firearms in incidents of mass violence in America," the foundation news release said.
The meeting this week coincides with President Obama's plans to unveil gun-control proposals on Wednesday. The Washington Post reported Obama administration will propose sweeping changes, including an assault weapons ban, universal background checks and limits on the number of bullets that ammunition clips can hold.
The Police Foundation on Monday discussed ways to prevent future tragedies, including a "Community Crisis Early Intervention System." The goal is to provide police and communities they serve with practical, no-to-low cost recommendations that can be quickly implemented, according to the foundation.
"While a national response is important and necessary, we can and should find ways to address mental health-related gun violence at the local level," Bueermann said in prepared remarks.
"The police, school officials, mental health specialists, parents, and community leaders need practical, evidence-based suggestions about the prevention of these tragedies," Bueermann said. "And they need them now. We can leverage the taxpayers' investment in policing, mental health systems, and research into 'what works' by giving the police three clear recommendations."
The Police Foundation listed three things every police chief or sheriff should know about preventing mental health-related gun violence:
1. The police should create local partnerships with mental health service providers, school officials, and appropriate community groups to develop a mental health crisis response capacity;
2. Police chiefs and sheriffs should use the bully pulpit afforded them to keep community focus on the need for mental health services and convene local service providers and community members to enhance knowledge about local needs, services, and the science of mental illness and gun violence; and,
3. Police chiefs and sheriffs should adopt policies and practices that help reduce the availability of firearms to people in mental health crisis, institutionalize mental health training for their officers, and facilitate community-wide "mental health first aid" training for all community members.
Participants in the roundtable discussion Monday included the American Psychological Association; National Institute of Mental Health; US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, Civil Rights Division, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and FBI Behavioral Science Unit; International Association of Chiefs of Police; Police Executive Research Forum; Mothers Against Drunk Driving; National Council for Behavioral Health; Office of New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; US Department of Homeland Security; New Haven CT Police Department; Montgomery County MD Police Department; and researchers from George Mason University's Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, University of Virginia, and West Virginia University.
The Police Foundation, created in 1970 by the Ford Foundation, is billed as America's oldest nonpartisan, nonprofit police research organization.