San Antonio Strategy On Police Calls Involving Mentally Ill Hailed As Model

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The San Antonio police's strategy for responding to calls involving people who are mentally ill is being hailed as a national model amid rising anger over police brutality toward and high incarceration rates of people with mental health issues, reports Al Jazzera America. This month, sheriff's deputies responded to a call from a woman whose son, who had refused to take his medication, was aggressive and threatening. Officers who specialize in mental health were sent to speak to the man calmly, with the goal of de-escalating the situation. They maintained a patient, unhurried demeanor, and the man agreed to go with the deputies to a treatment facility.

On March 9 a police response to an incident outside Atlanta involving a mentally ill person turned out very differently. A DeKalb County officer arrived at an apartment complex where a nude man was crawling around, knocking on doors and causing a disturbance. Officers said the man, Anthony Hill, 27, rushed at the officer, who shot and killed him. Hill was unarmed. Nationwide, half the people shot and killed by police have mental health problems, said a 2013 estimate by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs' Association. Advocates say not only does the San Antonio and surrounding Bexar County program reduce violence, but it also keeps the mentally ill out of lockups.

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