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Amid protests, states are promoting police mental health training

According to Cassandra Quinto-Collins, the officer, who knelt on his son’s neck for more than four minutes, assured him that this was a standard protocol for a person with a mental illness.

Quinto-Collins told the Associated Press. “I was just sure they knew what they were doing.”

Angelo Quinto’s sister called 911 for help during the December 23 episode of Paranoia. who restrained his feet և his only voice was when he cried twice. “Please do not kill me.”

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

This is the latest dangerous example of people being threatened by the police. In response to several high-profile deaths of mentally ill people in police custody, lawmakers in at least eight states are enacting legislation to change the way law enforcement responds to crises.

The recommendations are largely based on additional training for officers on how to interact with people with mental health problems. This is a common reaction when lawmakers confront police brutality, as the United States has seen since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. But none of the suggestions addresses the main question. Should the police be held accountable when someone is mentally ill?

In California, lawmakers passed legislation Feb. 11 that would require prospective officers, among other things, to complete college courses in mental health, social services and psychology without requiring a degree.

In New York, lawmakers in January offered to try to require law enforcement to complete at least a 32-credit hour course that would include de-escalation techniques for dealing with people with mental health problems.

The offer came almost a year after Rochester, New York, when officers spat blue on Daniel Prude and pressed his naked body into the street until he stopped breathing. The victim’s family, like Quinto’s, said they called 911 for help after Proude, who is a SJ, began having a mental health episode.

Similarly, in Utah in September, the mother of 13-year-old Linden Cameron called 911 because she was in trouble and needed help from a crisis response officer. When Salt Lake City police fled, he was shot several times because they believed he was threatening to get a gun.

He was hospitalized, no weapon was found. The officers were not crisis specialists, but had some mental health training.

Last month, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed legislation that would create a council for police standardization in the area of ​​police crisis response teams.

At least 34 states already require officers to have training or other training in dealing with people with physical or mental health conditions. But law enforcement experts say there is a need for updated training, and agencies are lagging behind.

“The training that the police have received in the past, I would say, has not changed significantly in 25 years, it is outdated, it does not correspond to today’s realities,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum in Washington. center: “I mean, what the mother wants when the police are called is the use of force by the officer. “Especially in a situation that did not require it, because the officers were not prepared to recognize the crisis.”

Some of the new legislation aims to strengthen or improve standards. But because mental health education is the responsibility of most states, some advocates and experts believe it can never fully train officers on how to respond.

2015 The report concluded that the Center for the Advocacy of Treatment, which does not pursue a profit for the treatment of the mentally ill, in 2015. The report found that people with untreated mental illness were 16 times more likely to be killed in a police clash than others.

“The solution that will have the greatest impact on the problem is to prevent people with mental illness from first contacting law enforcement,” said report co-author Elizabeth Sinclair Hank.

According to him, as it is not always possible, another solution is to create joint answering programs, where a social worker or other mental health professional helps officers in such calls.

That’s what Philadelphia introduced in October, weeks ago when officers died and shot black Walter Wallace Jr., a minute after he reached his address for the third time in a day, when he was in a state of mental health. Police said Wallace disobeyed orders to throw a knife.

Other cities have similar plans, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Oregon.

For Victims families who now say they regret calling 911 for help, the necessary training: Legislative reform has taken place.

“Looking back was not the smartest idea to call the police,” said Isabella Collins, Quinto’s 18-year-old sister, who died in California. “But I just wanted him to be able to calm down, I thought they could help.”

Antioch police have not released details of Quinto’s death for more than a month. Police Chief Tamani Brooks has denied that officers used a knee or other object to pressure Quinto on the head, neck or throat. An autopsy is being performed.

The section did not respond to a request for comment.

In February, Quinto’s family filed a misdemeanor lawsuit against the city, claiming that he “died as a direct result of unjustified force used against him.”

“I think it was really naive for me to think he would not be offended,” Collins said.

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Amir reported from Columbus, Ohio. Associated Press writers Don Thompson, Sacramento, California, Sophia Epolito, Salt Lake City, and Ronda Schaffner, a New York researcher, contributed to this report. Amir և is a member of the Epolito Corps for the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national nonprofit program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover hidden issues.

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