In protest, state promotes mental health training for police

A police officer who said Cassandra Quinto-Collins knelt on his son’s neck for more than four minutes assured her that it was the standard protocol for calming a person experiencing memory weakness.

“I’ve been watching it all the time,” Quinto-Collins told The Associated Press. “I believed they knew what they were doing.”

Angelo Quint’s sister called 911 to calm him down in an episode of Paranoia on December 23rd. His family says Quint did not resist officers in Antioch, California. He restrained his leg — and the only sound he made was when he shouted twice, “Don’t kill me.”

The policeman replied, “We are not going to kill you,” the family said. Police have denied putting pressure on his neck. Three days later, a 30-year-old Navy veteran and Filipino immigrant died in the hospital.

This is the latest prominent example of the danger of cracking down on people with mental health problems. In response to some notable deaths of people with mental health problems during police detention, lawmakers at least eight states have legislated law enforcement agencies to change the way law enforcement agencies deal with people in crisis. We have introduced it.

The proposal relies heavily on additional training for executives on how to interact with people with mental health problems. After George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, as the United States saw last year, it’s a common reaction when lawmakers face widespread protests against police atrocities. However, none of the suggestions seem to address the underlying question. Should the police respond when someone is mentally ill?

In California, lawmakers introduced the law on February 11. The law, among other things, requires future officers to complete college courses in mental health, social welfare, and psychology without the need for a degree.

In New York, in January, lawmakers proposed an effort to require law enforcement agencies to complete at least 32 credit hours of training. This includes techniques for deescalation and interaction with people with mental illness.

The proposal came almost a year after a police officer in Rochester, New York, put a spit hood on Daniel Proud’s head and pushed his naked body down the street until he stopped breathing. Victims’ families, like Quint, said they turned to 911 for help after the black man Prud began to have an episode of mental health.

Similarly, in Utah, 13-year-old Linden Cameron’s mother called 911 in September. He was out of order and needed the help of a crisis intervention officer. Police in Salt Lake City shot him many times because he ran away because he believed he had threatened with a weapon.

He was hospitalized but could not find any weapons. Police officers were not experts in crisis intervention, but were trained in mental health.

Last month, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill to establish a council to standardize training for state-wide police crisis intervention teams.

At least 34 states require officers to be trained or otherwise educated in interacting with people in physical or mental health. However, law enforcement experts say that the institution is far behind, requiring up-to-date training.

Chuck Wechsler, Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said: A think tank based in Washington. “That is, the last thing the mother wants when calling the police is for the police to use force, especially because the police were not trained in how to recognize the crisis. In the situation. “

Some of the new laws aim to strengthen or improve the standards. However, mental health training is mandatory in most states, and some advocates and professionals believe that executives cannot be fully prepared for how to respond.

The Treatment Advocacy Center, a non-profit organization specializing in treating mental illness, reported in a 2015 report that people with untreated mental illness are killed more during encounters with police than others. We conclude that it is 16 times more likely.

“The most influential solution to this problem is to prevent people with mental illness from encountering law enforcement in the first place,” said report co-author Elizabeth Sinclairhank.

Another solution is for social workers or other mental health professionals to create a co-responder program to assist officers on such phones, as it is not always possible, she said. Told.

Introduced by Philadelphia in October, it was a black man, Walter Wallace Jr., within a minute of arriving at his third address in a day when police were facing a mental health crisis. I shot deadly. Police said Wallace ignored the order to drop the knife.

Similar programs are available in other cities, including Los Angeles in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.

The necessary training and legislative changes have long been delayed for the families of victims who now say they regret having asked 911 for help.

“In retrospect, it wasn’t a wise idea to call the police,” said Isabella Collins, Quint’s 18-year-old sister, who died in California. “But I just wanted him to be able to calm down and I thought they could help it.”

Antioch police have not released details of Quint’s death for more than a month. Police chief Tamany Brooks denied that police officers used knees to apply pressure to Quint’s head, neck, and throat. Investigation and autopsy are in progress.

The department did not respond to the request for comment.

Quint’s family filed an illegal death claim against the city in February, claiming that he “died as a direct result of the unjustified force used against him.”

“I think it was really naive that he didn’t think he would get hurt,” Collins said.


Amiri reported from Columbus, Ohio. The Associated Press writer Don Thompson of Sacramento, California, Sophia Epolito of Salt Lake City, and New York researcher Ronda Schaffner contributed to this report. Amiri and Epipolito are members of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in the local newsroom to report on unreported issues.