Milwaukee police promised that all officers will be well trained in mental illness. That was 10 years ago. It still hasn’t happened, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Since that pledge for better training, at least seven people with well-documented and severe mental illness have died after confrontations with Milwaukee police. In at least three of the cases, the officers who responded had not received the department’s special mental health training, though they were specifically dispatched to deal with a person in an obvious psychiatric crisis.
Today, one in five Milwaukee police officers has completed the 40 hours needed to be certified under the Crisis Intervention Team trainingprogram, an approach considered the gold standard for policing. Only three of the roughly 40 dispatchers (those who decide which officers to send to particular calls) have been trained in CIT. In the latest case, Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed man with a history of paranoid schizophrenia, was shot 14 times and killed April 30.