Individual and Organizational Factors Influencing Police Perceptions of Persons With Mental Illness

Michael J. Bolton, Marymount University

Police officer attitude toward persons with mental illnesses generally mirror those of the public. Mentally ill individuals are believed to be potentially dangerous, lacking in believability, and unable to manage their daily affairs. This study uses a three minute videotape of a person manifesting symptoms of severe mental illness and a 40-item survey instrument to examine perceptions of the dangerousness, credibility, and self-sufficiency of persons with mental illnesses. Data collected from 276 police officers attending in-service classes at five police academies indicate that both individual and organizational factors influence police officer perceptions of persons with mental illnesses.

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Updated 05/20/2006