Al Gerhardstein in the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Our community cannot resign itself to the rising death toll among mentally ill persons who encounter Cincinnati police. An Enquirer story, “Mentally ill make up nearly half of those killed by CPD” (Jan. 22), revealed that nearly half of the individuals recently killed by Cincinnati officers were in the midst of a mental health crisis. We can and must do better for this vulnerable population. We must also root out any bias in our approach to these persons since a disproportionate number are black. Chief Eliot Isaac points to the rise of mentally ill patients on the streets. Former FOP President Keith Fangman adds that many of them are “unmedicated, unsupervised and … armed.”
In 2001, early in our reform effort in Cincinnati, the city established specific protocols for this population, developed mental health response teams and expanded training to include members of the mental health community. Clearly this is not enough. We have the means at hand to upgrade our services and improve our outcomes. The Collaborative Agreement requires that where there are “repeat complaint circumstances” the Citizen’s Complaint Authority (CCA) shall “determine the reason(s) for the pattern and whether there are opportunities to eliminate or reduce root causes. Where possible this project should involve both affected officers and the community.” … Complete story here.