Even as they face a growing number of disturbed people, police often lack crisis training. And the leadership and data-gathering needed to stem the bloodshed are largely absent.
To read the entire 4-part series, click here: http://www.pressherald.com/specia/Maine_police_deadly_force_series_Day_4.html
With headlines such as this, what family member in their right mind would call the police for help -- when their ill loved one becomes to much to handle? With civil commitment laws making it almost impossible to get needed medical attention for those who lack insight and refuse treatment -- what should a family do? My husband and I call this difficult decision the 'carousal of insanity' that is worse than Russian Roulette! GG Burns, KY Mental Health Advocate
A few quotes from this very long, but informative article:
In many cases, mentally ill people shot by police have threatened, injured or even killed others. Sometimes, they have threatened suicide or expressed a desire to be shot by the police. Frequently, the use of deadly force seems excessive, if not utterly unnecessary.
It also could save taxpayers money, they said, if government leaders were able to demonstrate that it's more cost-effective to fully fund mental health services and police training up front, rather than risk more expensive responses and sometimes tragic results when crisis situations go wrong.
The Justice Department typically only steps in when police shootings of the mentally ill or other minorities ignite public outrage. Then, its Civil Rights Division requires police departments to make after-the-fact, local policy and operational changes -- including crisis intervention training promoted by NAMI and other organizations -- that can produce questionable, unverified results.
NAMI's Honberg acknowledges that even his group has failed to push for a unified, national approach to the problem, though the organization targets over-incarceration of the mentally ill as a major concern. At least 17 percent of the 2.2 million people in U.S. jails and prisons are mentally ill, according to recent studies.
Honberg agrees that similar attention should be paid to police shootings of the mentally ill.
"(It's) not a national priority, and it should be, not only for humanitarian reasons, but for economic reasons as well," Honberg said.