Serving Safely is a national initiative designed to improve interactions between police and persons affected by mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. Supported through a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the initiative includes leaders in the fields of policing, mental illness, intellectual/developmental disability, crisis intervention, peer advocacy, emergency medicine, technology development, and prosecution. Together Vera, BJA, and the partners are developing and managing training and technical assistance to enhance collaborative responses for people affected by mental illnesses and intellectual/developmental disabilities who come into contact with the police to improve outcomes and the safety for all involved parties.

Project Objectives

  • Develop and facilitate collaborative responses for people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities who come into contact with the police and their community partners in ways that improve safety for all;

  • Build a national community of practice for police responses to people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities; and

  • Contribute to and expand upon available information on best practices, policies, research, and resources in the field and ensure that all resources are easily accessible and widely disseminated.

Key Fact

People with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities are disproportionately represented in contacts with the police as well as in jails and prisons. These interactions can lead to stressful and dangerous conditions for both officers and community members.