Developing a Behavioral Health Resource Field Manual for Law Enforcement
Background: Covid-19 significantly minimized undergraduate opportunities to gain vital research training and service learning experience. In response, one forensic psychology laboratory “got creative” by collaborating with its local police department.
Objective: Ensure rich research assistant (RA) experience and service learning in forensic psychology; foster RAs’ understanding of law enforcement officer (LEO) fieldwork, particularly in response to persons in crisis (PIC); and contribute to the community by developing a behavioral health resource field manual for LEOs on patrol.
Method: RAs conceptualized and executed a qualitative study to develop a behavioral health field resource manual for LEOs. They collected resource manual needs from two LEO focus groups (N =13). They analyzed descriptive statistics in SPSS and conducted thematic content analysis in NVivo and prepared the project for dissemination.
Results: Key takeaways were that LEOs reported a need for specific behavioral health resource content in an easily-accessible format, and the ability to provide PICs with referral materials.
Conclusion: RAs reported newfound understandings of the research process, PIC needs and behavioral health resources, LEO experiences, and community stakeholder partnerships.
Teaching Implications: The development and execution of this project demonstrates how faculty can provide undergraduate RAs unique opportunities for research, service learning, and multidisciplinary collaboration.