Last year, the New York Police Department responded to more than 87,000 calls having to do with emotionally disturbed persons, or “EDPs,” reports City Limits. Most such cases are handled by regular police officers, who receive 14.5 hours of training on topics such as identifying mental illnesses and interacting with people affected by them. A specialized response team, the Emergency Service Unit, or ESU, whose 400 officers receive 16 hours of tactical training and 40 hours of emergency psychological training, and are called in difficult situations.
In response to several recent police shootings of people with mental illnesses, including two deaths in November, New York City is starting to re-examine its approach to such cases. The police and health departments have convened a “Link Committee” comprised of agency representatives, mental health advocates and consumers, lawyers, and researchers. City Limits interviewed a panel of specialists to discuss the challenges and possibilities of police interactions with people with mental illnesses in New York City.