University Researcher and Law Enforcement Collaboration : Lessons From a Study of Justice-Involved Persons With Suspected Mental Illness

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  • In 2012, heads of local law enforcement agencies in Benton County, Oregon, contacted researchers at Oregon State University to discuss a problem: a sharp rise in the amount of contact between police and suspects displaying symptoms of mental illness. This initial contact led to an ongoing collaborative examination of the nature, causes, and consequences of the rise in police contacts. In this article, the authors describe this collaboration between researchers and law enforcement officials from the perspective of both parties, situating it within the context of mental illness in the American criminal justice system. The collaborators draw on firsthand experiences and prior collaborations to discuss the benefits of, challenges in, and recommendations for university-police research collaborations. While such collaborations may pose challenges (related to relationship definition, data collection and analysis, outputs, and relationship maintenance), the potential benefits—for researchers and law enforcement agencies—are substantial.
  • This is an author's peer-reviewed final manuscript, as accepted by the publisher. The published article is copyrighted by The Authors and published by SAGE Publications. It can be found at:
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  • Burkhardt, B. C., Akins, S., Sassaman, J., Jackson, S., Elwer, K., Lanfear, C., Amorim, M., & Stevens, K. (2015). University Researcher and Law Enforcement Collaboration: Lessons From a Study of Justice-Involved Persons With Suspected Mental Illness. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 61(5), 508–525.
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  • 61
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  • 5
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