Center for Policy Research
Treatment for Mental Health and Substance Use: Spillovers to Police Safety
Monica Deza, Thanh Lu, Johanna Catherine Maclean, Alberto Ortega
C.P.R. Working Paper No. 261
We study the effect of community access to mental health and substance use treatment on police officer safety, which we proxy with on-duty assaults on officers. Police officers often serve as first-responders to people experiencing mental health and substance use crises, which can place police officers at risk. Combining agency-level data on police officer on-duty assaults and county-level data on the number of treatment centers that offer mental health and substance use care, we estimate two-way fixed-effects regressions and find that an additional four centers per county (the average annual increase observed in our data) leads to a 1.3% reduction per police agency in on-duty assaults against police officers. Established benefits of access to treatment for mental health and substance use appear to extend to the work environment of police officers.