Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Joseph, Rigaud


ABSTRACT The Los Angeles Sheriff Department’s Field Operations Crisis Intervention Skills (FOCIS) program is a collaborative effort aimed at preparing law enforcement officers for crises that involve individuals with severe mental illness and/or developmental disabilities. That is, the ultimate goal of the program is to train officers to serve, protect, and build connections with the community’s most vulnerable citizens. Embracing a pre-experimental design, this study assessed the effectiveness and applicability of the FOCIS program among 53 law enforcement officers in Los Angeles County. Findings from non-parametric analyses revealed that the FOCIS training increased officers’ knowledge on mental illness and developmental disabilities but did not create or increase empathy toward people experiencing these conditions. In parallel, descriptive statistics demonstrated that the vast majority of study participants (over 80 percent) considered the FOCIS program highly effective and applicable to their field. Taken as a whole, these findings indicated that FOCIS improve LEOs’ preparedness to handle situations involving people who experience mental illness and developmental disabilities. However, there was no evidence that the training improves empathy among the participating officers. The implications of these findings for law enforcement stakeholders are discussed.

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