With an example of Mildred Galarza and Hawa Bah who now wish it were someone else instead of that armed police officers who first came in front to encounter when their loved ones were having mental health crises. This is news from 2016, when Galarza’s brother, Ariel, 49, died after being was called three times by police when because a neighbor in the Bronx called 911 to report a man with a knife. He was described as pale, screaming, and breathing heavily man. His situation was worsening with every minute passing by.
Cities Are Sending Civilian Responders Instead Of Police On Mental Health Calls: Good Responses In Eugene, Olympia, Denver
Another news from 2012 states that Bah’s 28-year-old son, Mohamed, was shot dead in Harlem by police. Bah said that her son was facing mental health issues like depression and he needed medical attention. But sending unarmed people who are mental health professionals trained in de-escalation techniques could have been better in both cases.
Galarza said that they all wanted to examine what happens before any armed officer comes and how a mental health professional can help in these situations. While Bah stated that her son was treated like a criminal and shot dead. All of them agreed to get along with a mental health professional who can give them care and listen to the members of the families and the community.
A study says that more than 50% of fatal encounters with law enforcement involve someone with a mental illness. It was estimated in a 2016 study issued in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. It also showed that nearly 1 in 4 people were shot by police without any mercy. The shooting and killing of people also involved the color issues in the entire USA.
This concern grew more when a piece of news came out that armed officers are not the responders and never the best-suited person for a mental health emergency. It came into the picture when Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man, declined in police custody in Rochester, New York, in March 2020. It was said that he was undergoing a mental health crisis.
Advocates say that these kinds of cases should be treated as health crises rather than crimes. When George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis last May, there have been raising movements from people to divert this mental illness support from police to professional people. It is also said the ‘defund the police movement. 8 in 10 voters approve that diverting 911 calls associated with mental health and substance should be directed to the people who can handle this matter with maturity.
There are people who respond to such cases with sensitivity and training. One of them is Sanford Rubenstein, an attorney who represents several families whose loved ones were killed by NYPD. All of them were killed as a response to a mental health crisis. If this was handled by a professional, these killings would not have been taken place. Taking a step even now can save further deaths.