Faculty News

Engaging with Law Enforcement to Provide Mental Health and Anti-Racism Training

woman in a suit and a male police officer dressed in uniform standing in front of a police SUV

In this episode of Michigan Minds, Daicia Price, clinical assistant professor of social work at University of Michigan’s School of Social Work, discusses how she brings services into communities and provides mental health and anti-racism training to law enforcement agencies. 

Download this episode

Price’s research and evaluation focuses on the different needs of law enforcement in order to be prepared to help those with mental health issues. Over the past four years in Wayne County, she says, they identified a need for law enforcement and first responders to have more mental health awareness training as part of their role. To fulfill this need, Price provided training to officers to help them understand how to recognize a crisis and to intervene when it’s related to behavioral health.

“We utilize those evidence-based practice methods, but then throughout those interactions it became clear and evident that more intensive training and support was needed to also think about some of the different biases that come into play to help law enforcement officers recognize what their roles are and how to connect with other mental health providers for themselves,” says Price.

Price provides insight on how social workers can collaborate with law enforcement to support those with mental health issues. Her advice centers around the idea that more social workers, and other disciplines that include personal clinical work, should try to engage in continuing education to understand the culture of law enforcement and be prepared to deliver mental health services to law enforcement officers. 

She also discusses how social workers and other professionals have to learn to not utilize law enforcement to intervene with clients. Price recommends that instead, professionals should work on learning more creative engagement strategies to connect people to crisis resources in the community as an alternative. 

Price also explains the process of her work and how she conducts training — which is EAT PIE. The acronym stands for the social work practice of Engage, Assess, Target goals — Plan, Intervene, Evaluate. She says that she uses “eat pie” both literally and figuratively when sharing and communicating with people within law enforcement agencies. 

“I spent the past few years really in the engagement and assessment process learning the different cultures…learning to be able to have dialogue with different people within the law enforcement agencies, really seeking to understand the history and the current strengths and challenges of our public safety system, and we did some of that over pie, sometimes actually. What they shared with me was that their goal is to have safe communities for everyone — that’s the goal.”

Read more about Price’s work from the School of Social Work’s ONGOING Magazine

She concludes by encouraging everyone to rethink the way they see themselves in their community. 

“I’ve been reminded that most times a law enforcement officer is present because someone called them, so think about the reason for that. Are we calling them because we don’t know other resources that are available in the community? Are we neglecting to consider the purpose of law enforcement? Are we afraid of certain individuals?”  

Price explains that as community members, we have a responsibility to know that no one profession or entity is responsible, or should be responsible, for the greater failings of larger societal issues.

Listen to the full episode