On The Front Lines: Policing and Mental Health

Wednesday, May 18: 11:00 am -12:15 pm PT
Live Online Webinar

Expert Panel Discusses Policing and Mental Health

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, Palo Alto University (PAU) is pleased to present an important conversation addressing the pressing issue of policing and mental health in a panel discussion entitled 'On the Front Lines: Policing and Mental Health.'

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When Police Respond to the Mentally Ill Graphic

Nationwide police departments are working to revamp the way officers respond to mental health calls.  As a result, more police departments are teaming with mental health clinicians—including psychologists—out in the field or behind the scenes via crisis intervention training. In addition, increasing attention is being paid to the impact of officer wellness and organizational dynamics on police performance on interactions with the public.


Palo Alto Continuing Education Patricia_Zapf headshot

The panel will be moderated by Palo Alto University Vice President for Continuing and Professional Studies, Patricia Zapf, PhD.

Dr. Zapf is a forensic clinical psychologist, a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), Distinguished Member of the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS).


The panelists include:

Robert Jonsen, has been in law enforcement since 1986 and has served as Chief of Police for the Palo Alto Police Department since 2018.  Prior to that he was Chief of Police for the Menlo Park Police Department and for 27 years worked with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. As the Palo Alto Police Chief, Jonsen launched a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) in partnership with Santa Clara County, becoming the second law enforcement agency and first city in the County to change its service delivery. The program teams up a police officer with a licensed mental health clinician to provide rapid intervention to a person in mental health crisis. Chief Jonsen has a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, is a certified instructor for Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT), and is a trained mindfulness facilitator from UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscienchttps://www.mhwpsychlaw.com/#:~:text=MHW%20PsychLaw%20Services%2C%20Inc.%20is,psychological%20assessment%20and%20consultative%20servicese and Human Behavior. 


Ellen Kirschman, PhD, has been a police psychologist for 40 years.  She is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, The American Psychological Association, and volunteers her clinical services at the First Responder Support Network. She is the recipient of the California Psychological Association’s award for distinguished contribution to psychology as well as the American Psychological Association’s award for outstanding contribution to the practice of police and public safety psychology. She is the author of I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know, I Love a Fire Fighter: What the Family Needs to Know, lead author of Counseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know, and a four book  mystery series told from the perspective of police psychologist Dot Meyerhoff. Her work has taken her to four countries and twenty-one states. She blogs with Psychology Today and maintains a website atwww.ellenkirschman.com.

Mark Kamena, PhD, ABPP, is a licensed psychologist and board-certified specialist in police and public service psychology, chair of the first responder psychology certificate program at the Wright Institute, co-founder and director of research for the first responder support network - residential treatment programs for first responders (WCPR) and their significant others and spouses (SOS), and co-author (Kischman, Kamena & Fay) of Counseling Cops (2014) and of “Intensive residential treatment program,” J Police Crim Psych (2020).

Angélica Hendrix, is a registered Associate Marriage and Family therapist at Integrated Psychological Assessment Services (IPAS). Angélica received her Master’s degree from The Wright Institute and her Bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies from San Jose State University. Angélica is a trauma informed clinician who has experience working with first responders, adults dealing with PTSD, depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties and communication challenges. Angelica also has years of experience working with spouses/partners of first responders. She is the wife of a former law enforcement officer. Angélica is trained in an array of evidence based treatment modalities, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples and individuals (EFCT/EFIT), The Flash Technique, Brain Spotting, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). 

Kathryn Parlet MS LPCC LMFT AEM has worked for the County of Santa Clara for over 20 years.  Her experience includes ten years of inpatient psychiatric work at Valley Medical Center, Foothill College, the Washington State Penitentiary, and the Gronkowski Clinic.  She was the Behavioral Health Services Disaster Preparedness Manager during the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting.  She was the County of Santa Clara 5150 coordinator and County of Santa Clara CIT coordinator for almost seven years until she was promoted to work in Custody Health in the County Jail for Custody Health Services.  Kathryn was Valedictorian of her high school class and completed her BS from Whitman College in only three years.  She is the 52 person to become a LPCC in the state of California and was one of the first 80 people in the world to become a Certified CIT Coordinator.  She has spoken at Mini-Con, Stanford School of Medicine, NAMI Santa Clara, and the VA Mental Health Summit. 

Dr. Michelle Hoy-Watkins, PsyD, ABPP, is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than 20 years of experience providing clinical, forensic, and police & public safety psychological services.  She is board certified in Police & Public Safety Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).  As a police psychologist, her work has included conducting pre-employment psychological screenings, fitness for duty evaluations, campus and workplace violence risk and threat assessment, and relevant trainings for various law enforcement agencies. Dr. Hoy-Watkins has extensive expertise conducting competency to stand trial, competency to participate in immigration proceedings, criminal responsibility, sentencing and mitigation and juvenile transfer waiver cases. She has served as an expert witness in county, state, and federal courts proceedings.


This program is part of Palo Alto University's "At the Forefront of Mental Health" series and takes place May 18, 2022, from 11:00 am -12:15 pm PT.

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