Alum’s CHDS research adopted as IAB policy paper

Michael Biasotti’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security master’s degree thesis research has found yet another outlet.

A white paper, “Prevalence of Untreated Severe Mental Illness in U.S. Communities Places Unmanageable Burden

CHDS alumnus Michael Biasotti testifies before a congressional committee.

CHDS alumnus Michael Biasotti testifies before a congressional committee.

on First Responders and Law Enforcement,” was adopted by the InterAgency Board (IAB) Executive Committee in October. The IAB brings together emergency and response practitioners to encourage best practices, policies and tools for the homeland security enterprise.

Separately, a report released December 10 by the Treatment Advocacy Center

was co-written by Biasotti. This report furthered research on police interaction with the severely mentally ill.

As with his CHDS thesis, “Management of the Severely Mentally Ill and Its Effects on Homeland Security,” the research traces the cost to law enforcement in interacting with mentally ill residents and makes recommendations to policy makers.

Biasotti’s research has framed mental illness as a homeland security issues for several reasons. Most notably, law enforcement is increasingly called upon as the de facto mental health resource of many communities, clogging jails with people who need treatment more than incarceration. And, the calls divert officers from fighting crime.

The issues also is thought to be the core challenge of what are known as “high-volume utilizers” who call 911 for service repeatedly, diverting police, fire and EMS resources in the process.

And, the recent paper notes that in comparable Western nations an estimated mental illness as a factor in 50 percent of all police homicides.

In his thesis, Biasotti noted governments began shuttering mental health facilities beginning in the 1960s and 1970s as a cost cutting measure and the still in-vogue philosophy that integrated patients into their communities for care. More recent research shows that 13 states closed 25 percent or more of their total state hospital beds between 2001 and 2010. Biasotti wrote that the closures had reduced the number of inpatient beds available nationwide to the lowest level since 1850.

Biasotti has championed a series of recommendations in the IAB to address the issue.

They include:
· Implement assisted outpatient treatment
· Utilize evidence-based emerging practices to treat the severely mentally ill
· Improve consistency of evidence-based inpatient civil commitment standards
· Increase community continuum of care availability including sufficient inpatient psychiatric beds
· Provide adequate funding for mental illness and addiction recovery services

Court-ordered treatment is controversial with many mental health advocates contending there is not necessarily a link between crime and mental illness. Biasotti counters that the segment of the population he is addressing is narrow “subgroup within a subgroup.”

“My argument to that is that if you are told tomorrow that your appendix is about to explode, you have your brain functioning and you say ‘I need to get to the hospital,’” Biasotti said in 2012. “How does that play to a person who has a brain issue? Are you protecting their civil liberties by allowing them to eat out of dumpster and sleep on a street corner?”

The IAB white paper is the latest progression of Biasotti’s CHDS research.

Following his 2011 CHDS graduation, the thesis garnered national recognition from new organizations around the nation and Biasotti authored op-ed pieces on the topic for publications that included the New York Daily News and the San Francisco Chronicle as well as consulting with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. His research was also endorsed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 2013.

A 2013 New York state gun law included a portion of the recommendations – that adult outpatient treatment may be court ordered under certain conditions. Biasotti has also testified before Congress in March 2013 and his work was adapted by the Treatment Advocacy Center. More recently, the Treatment Advocacy Center released a report titled “Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters” which Biasotti co-authored.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email