Damning New Analysis Reveals Deadly Lack of Police Training on Mental Illness

On average, police shot and killed someone who was in mental crisis every 36 hours in the first six months of this year,’ reveals Washington Post

by: Deirdre Fulton


One quarter of the men and women shot and killed by police in the first six months of 2015 were “in the throes of mental or emotional crisis,” according to a new analysis published by the Washington Post on Tuesday, suggesting that law enforcement officers lack training on how to deal with the mentally ill.

“On average, police shot and killed someone who was in mental crisis every 36 hours in the first six months of this year,” write journalists Wesley Lowery, Kimberly Kindy, and Keith L. Alexander.

Responding to a dearth of federal data on such killings, the Post is compiling a database of every fatal shooting in the United States by a police officer in the line of duty in 2015, along with details about each incident—including the race of the deceased, the circumstances of the shooting, and whether the person was armed—sourced from local news reports and independent databases, such as Killed by Police and Fatal Encounters.

The Post database shows that in the first six months of this year, 461 people have been shot to death by police—including 123 killings “in which the mental health of the victim appeared to play a role, either because the person expressed suicidal intentions or because police or family members confirmed a history of mental illness,” the Post reports.

The analysis continues:

Nearly a dozen of the mentally distraught people killed were military veterans, many of them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their service, according to police or family members. Another was a former California Highway Patrol officer who had been forced into retirement after enduring a severe beating during a traffic stop that left him suffering from depression and PTSD.

And in 45 cases, police were called to help someone get medical treatment, or after the person had tried and failed to get treatment on his own.

For example, Common Dreams reported earlier this year on the shooting death of a homeless and mentally ill man in Los Angeles, who news outlets said had been living in a tent on Skid Row for a few months after spending a long stretch in a mental health facility. “That man never was a threat,” one witness told the Los Angeles Times. “The amount of officers present at the time could have subdued him.”

In interviews, the Post reports, current and former police chiefs cited insufficient or inappropriate training as well as “severe budget cuts for psychiatric services” as reasons for the deadly encounters. 

“This a national crisis,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told the Post. “We have to get American police to rethink how they handle encounters with the mentally ill. Training has to change.”



Source: Damning New Analysis Reveals Deadly Lack of Police Training on Mental Illness | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

First Activate Media Newsletter !


Ⓐctivate Media Newsletter

July 2015

News Flash!

Obamacare score’s victory with SCOTUS, but Fast Track passed for TPP! Same-sex marriage legal in all states!


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It is with distinct pleasure that I take this opportunity to welcome you to our very first newsletter! This is a space for us to share what’s happening behind the scenes, as well as upcoming projects and features that we know you’ll be most interested in.

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In the past month’s, Activate Media has:

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Supreme Court Delivers ‘Transformative Triumph’ for Marriage Equality

Many in LGBTQ community urge, ‘The work of the movement is far from over’

by: Sarah Lazare

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday issued a historic 5-4 ruling that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, sparking instant celebration and declarations of triumph, as well as reminders from many in the LGBTQ community that the road to freedom is long, and this issue is just “the tip of the iceberg.”

Friday’s Obergefell v. Hodges et. al. decision will enable marriage in the 13 states where same-sex couples are prohibited from exercising this right and strikes down restrictions on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, declaring that any couple that wishes to marry must be allowed.

“The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them,” Justice Anthony Kennedy declared in the majority opinion.

The decision follows a hard-fought shift in U.S. public opinion. A new poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC finds that the U.S. public strongly supports marriage equality, and among 20-year-olds, support is at 73 percent.

The ruling was met with expressions of joy and victory, including a huge celebration outside of the supreme court.

“Today’s ruling is a transformative triumph decades in the making, a momentous victory for freedom, equality, inclusion, and above all, love,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, in a press statement.

“Today, the Supreme Court recognized that thousands of loving, committed couples from coast to coast don’t fall into a ‘lesser than’ category because they’re comprised of two men or two women,” declared Equality California executive director Rick Zbur. “Today’s decision isn’t a victory just for those couples and their families—it’s a stunning win for all Americans who value freedom and equality.”

For many, the ruling underscored the importance of remembering how the United States got to this point—as well as the people who are not here to celebrate.

“Going back to pivotal moments like the Stonewall and Compton’s Cafeteria rebellions, the courage and advocacy of transgender leaders of color, and particularly transgender women of color, has been instrumental in advancing the whole LGBT movement and laying the groundwork for victories like today’s,” declared Transgender Law Center executive director Kris Hayashi.

“As many celebrate today, we must remember that many members of our community cannot. At least nine transgender women have been murdered this year alone, mostly trans women of color.”
—Kris Hayashi, Transgender Law Center

“As many celebrate today, we must remember that many members of our community cannot,” Hayashi continued. “At least nine transgender women have been murdered this year alone, mostly trans women of color.”

“Today’s historic victory comes on the backs of same-sex couples and advocates who have worked for decades to dismantle harmful stereotypes and unjust laws in the quest for equal treatment,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Project.

President Barack Obama immediately praised the ruling as a “victory for America” and “a consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up and came out, and talked to parents, parents who loved their children no matter what, folks who … [endured] taunts and stayed strong and came to believe in themselves and who they were.”

Ironically, the president’s statement came just days after he insulted and shut down an undocumented transgender woman, Jennicet Gutiérrez, who interrupted a White House pride celebration to call attention to the assault and abuse of transgender people detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. “There is no pride in how LGBTQ and transgender immigrants are treated in this country,” said Gutiérrez.

Many within the LGBTQ community emphasize that the struggle for real justice extends far beyond marriage and includes the fight for black lives, safety and survival for transgender communities of color, economic justice, immigrant rights, and full health care for all—including transgender and gender nonconforming people, as well as people living with HIV and AIDS.

Members of GeTEQUAL and allied organizations gathered outside the Supreme Court on Friday with a sign that said “Liberation can’t wait,” to remind the crowd that “Marriage is just the tip of the iceberg in a bigger fight,” according to a press statement.

“As people gather in Charleston right now to mourn the lives of those murdered by a white supremacist gunman, we know the struggle for liberation is an urgent one—for LGBTQ people, black people and people of color, people living below the poverty line, and anyone experiencing violence and discrimination,” said Angela Peoples, co-director of GetEQUAL. “The work of the movement is far from over.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Source: Supreme Court Delivers ‘Transformative Triumph’ for Marriage Equality | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community