Federal, state, and municipal governments increase the use of trained mental health professionals to respond to reports of mental health crises and increase the use of unarmed city officials to enforce traffic laws.
- New Orleans
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Frequently Asked Questions
- Can’t this be fixed through specialized police training?
- What about mental health crises that do take a violent turn?
- What are the benefits?
1. Can’t this be fixed through specialized police training?
No. Residents in crisis need the help of trained personnel—medics and crisis workers with mental health training and experience. Lacking expertise in mental health crisis management, law enforcement officers are ill-equipped and ill-suited to be the first responders to 911 calls seeking medical and psychiatric assistance.
2. What about mental health crises that do take a violent turn?
Crisis intervention teams, such as the CAHOOTS responders in Eugene, Oregon, can and do call for backup from law enforcement if an encounter becomes violent, but such calls are rarely necessary. An analysis of police-involved shooting deaths in 2015 showed that in the majority of cases officers were not responding to a crime, but to calls from loved ones or bystanders concerned about a “mentally fragile person…behaving erratically”.
3. What are the benefits?
Crisis intervention teams connect people with appropriate medical care in times of psychiatric crisis and enable people and their loved ones, friends, and neighbors to seek out that care without fear of escalating violence. In addition to saving lives, crisis intervention teams save municipalities millions of dollars by diverting mental-health related calls away from police departments.