Beginning Research on Law Enforcement response to Mentally ill

Police Brutality and use of deadly force has been frequent media headlines over the past couple years. However, the issues between police and the mentally ill have been a prominent issue for a long time. Police in most areas of the United States are ill-equipped to handle special cases involving the mentally ill. The mentally ill or emotionally disturbed persons (EDP) need more specialized attention and care than the ordinary traffic stop.

My job is to assist Professor Arslan and to research how the police handle EDPs and if it is a commonality to have task forces that handle the mentally ill. This is to ensure deadly force is not used when there are professionals who have an alternative solution. Deadly force should always be a last resort tactic but some officers jump the gun (no pun intended). Although Crisis Intervention Teams are active in Westchester County, they are not implemented in the majority of police departments in the United States. For example, in Maine, police have shot over 100 people who ended up to be mentally ill since 1990. Since then they have begun the implementation of CIT (similar to White Plain’s program) to lower risk to mental health persons.

This is not only an important piece of Police use of deadly force. Research about the methods in which law enforcement handle the mentally ill could be revolutionary in decreasing the amount of people wounded at the hands of police. This is not only beneficial to the mentally ill, but it helps police officers during their daily duties, the family members of EDPs, and especially the state/ local governments.  The data for this research will be retrieved from the Statistics Help Officer Training (SHOT) database, which is located at Pace University.

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