APA attends Police Foundation meeting aimed at creating recommendations to curb gun violence

Staff joined dozens of representatives to develop a violence prevention model for police chiefs across the country.

APA Senior Policy Advisor Ellen G. Garrison, PhD, attended a meeting called by the Police Foundation aimed at helping to develop recommendations for police chiefs across the country to reduce gun-related violence. She was one of about 35 representatives from agencies and organizations invited to the meeting Jan. 13; other participants represented the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the National Institute of Mental Health and other police groups, to name a few. Also representing APA was John Monahan, PhD, of the University of Virginia's law school; several other APA members attended on behalf of other organizations.

"In preparing for the meeting, Dr. Monahan and I benefited from input received from our APA member experts, including police psychologists with Division 18," Garrison said afterward. "Key points raised by John related to the inherent difficulty in predicting low base rate events, such as mass homicides, and the importance of thinking in terms of risk factors rather than profiling."

Garrison stressed that the overwhelming proportion of gun violence is not committed by people with mental illness; that community partnerships and evidence-based interventions are essential; and that the research regarding the effects of police officers in schools is limited and not definitive.

Information shared at the meeting became the basis of a news release issued by the foundation, stressing the importance of partnerships among police, mental health providers, schools and community groups; the availability of mental health services; and policies and practices that help reduce the availability of firearms, including mental health training for police and other community members.