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Police Involvement and Influence in Involuntary Civil Commitment
Mary L. Durham; Harold D. Carr; Glenn L. Pierce
Psychiatric Services 1984; doi:
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Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, American Lake Veterans Administration Center (182B), American Lake, Tacoma, Washington 98493

department of health services at the University of Washington in Seattle

Northeastern University in Boston

1984 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

Although observers agree that the police play an important role in involuntary civil commitment of mentally ill individuals, there are scant empirical data to document the importance of the police in swaying the commitment decision. The authors studied 3,570 randomly selected case records of individuals referred to two county offices of civil commitment in Washington State to determine the types of referrals police become involved in, the extent to which referral sources request police assistance, and the percentage of referrals resulting in commitment with and without police involvement. The authors conclude that police most often are asked to assist in cases involving violent behavior, but that under almost all circumstances police involvement is the primary factor in determining whether referral will result in commitment.

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