Law Enforcement Should Support Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) to keep LEOs safer

(PDF Version)
Prepared by Mental Illness Policy Org. (12/13)

The mental health system has failed to provide care for the most seriously mentally ill, so persons with untreated serious mental illness have increasingly become a law enforcement responsibility. This puts police, patients, and public at risk and is a major drain on law enforcement resources. Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) returns care and treatment for the most seriously mentally ill back to mental health departments, thereby keeping police, public and patients safer and preserving law enforcement resources.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment. AOT allows courts to order the most seriously mentally ill revolving-door patients (“frequent fliers”) to stay in treatment as a condition of staying in the community and also order the mental health system to provide the treatment.

AOT Results:
AOT reduces EDP calls, arrest, booking, trial, incarceration and parole

  • 83% fewer experienced arrest

  • 87% fewer experienced incarceration.

  • 49% fewer abused alcohol

  • 48% fewer abused drugs

  • 55% fewer recipients engaged in suicide attempts or physical harm to self

  • 47% fewer physically harmed others

  • 46% fewer damaged or destroyed property

  • 43% fewer threatened physical harm to others.

  • 74% fewer participants experienced homelessness

  • 77% fewer experienced psychiatric hospitalization

  • AOT cut costs in half by replacing expensive incarceration with less expensive community treatment

Selected Endorsements

AOT can dramatically reduce the number of LEO-Mentally ill interactions. Mental Health departments are reluctant to use AOT because it requires them to engage and provide services for the most seriously ill. Greater use of AOT would result in the mental health system offloading fewer seriously ill to criminal justice. It is important for LEOs to become vigorous supporters of enacting and using AOT laws.

DJ Jaffe is Executive Director of the non-partisan Mental Illness Policy Org., and author of Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill. He is a critic of the mental health industry for ignoring the seriously ill, and has been advocating for better treatment for individuals with serious mental illness for over 30 years. He has written op-eds on the intersection of mental health and criminal justice policy for the New York Times, Wall St. Journal and the Washington Post. New York Magazine has credited him with being the driving force behind the passage of New York’s Kendra’s Law and Congress incorporated ideas proposed by DJ in the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.