9-1-1 MENTAL HEALTH EMERGENCY

April 06, 2019 at 4:30 am

Amid a citywide surge of emotional distress calls, the recently launched news outlet, “The City,” exposes a shocking fact. Although 14 mentally ill New Yorkers died at the hands of the police in the last three years, less than one-third of the force has undergone training on how to better deal with this vulnerable population.

Aired on April 5, 2019. 

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>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
THERE'S A NEW NAME IN LOCAL
JOURNALISM HERE IN NEW YORK AND
THE CITY IS ALREADY BREAKING
NEWS ON BEHALF OF NEW YORKERS.
THE INDEPENDENT NONPROFIT NEWS
OUTLET IS BEHIND THIS WEEK'S
STORY ON THE HIGH END TASTE OF
MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY CY
VANCE INCLUDING USE OF CORPORATE
FUNDS TO PAY FOR NEARLY $250,000
IN WORK TRIPS.
THE CITY HAS PUT OUT A SPECIAL
REPORT TITLED THE NYPD MENTAL
ILLNESS RESPONSE BREAK DOWN
WHICH EXAMINES HOW THE POLICE
DEPARTMENT AND THE de BLASIO
ADMINISTRATION ARE DOING WHEN IT
COMES TO THE MENTALLY ILL.
IN THE PAST THREE YEARS, 14
MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE HAVE
REPORTEDLY DIET DIED AT THE
HANDS OF THE POLICE.
THIS AS NEW YORK HAS ALSO SEEN
THE NUMBER OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
CALLS SKYROCKET AND NEARLY
DOUBLE OVER THE PAST DECADE.
FOR A DEEPER DIVE INTO THE
ISSUE, JENNA FLANNIGAN SPOKE
WITH THE PERSON WHO BROUGHT IT
TO THE CITY.
THE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER GREG
B. SMITH.
SHE BEGAN THE CONVERSATION BY
ASKING ABOUT THE CRUX OF HIS
REPORT.
>> I MEAN, THE NUMBERS ARE
DISTURBING.
SO WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING AT THE
911 CALLS THAT COME IN TO
REQUEST POLICE ASSISTANCE TO
DEAL WITH WHAT THEY CALL AN EDP,
AN EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED PERSON,
THE CALLS HAVE RISEN FROM 97,000
IN 2009 TO MORE THAN ALMOST
180,000. LAST YEAR.
THOSE NUMBERS WENT UP
EVERYWHERE.
NOT JUST THE PORT AUTHORITY.
EAST NEW YORK.
IT WAS, PARTICULARLY IN THE
SOUTH BRONX.
YOU SEE, WHAT YOU SEE IS YOU SEE
A PATTERN WHERE THE NUMBER OF
THESE CALLS HAS GONE UP
DRAMATICALLY.
AND SO WE WANTED TO TAKE A LOOK
AT WHAT HAS THE CITY DEALT WITH.
THIS IS NOT NEWS TO THEM.
THE NYPD AND LET ME MAKE THIS
VERY CHEER.
THIS IS NOT ON NYPD.
THE NYPD, THAT'S NOT THEIR JOB,
TO DEAL WITH THE MENTALLY ILL.
THEIR JOB IS TO TRY TO DEAL WITH
SITUATIONS AS THEY COME UP.
AND IT IS PART OF de BLASIO
ADMINISTRATION'S APPROACH IS TO
TRY TO PAIR THE NYPD WITH MENTAL
HEALTH PROFESSIONALS.
WHEN YOU'RE DEALING WITH SOMEONE
IN A VERY VOLATILE SITUATION, AN
UP PREDICTABLE SITUATION, YOU
WANT AS MUCH KNOWLEDGE ON THE
STREET WHEN YOU'RE DEALING WITH
IT.
THEIR PROMISE WAS TO TRY TO DO
THIS.
TO HAVE A BETTER EDUCATED COP TO
DEAL WITH IT.
THAT HAS BEEN A BIG CHALLENGE.
THEY'VE HAD A TOUGH TIME DEALING
WITH IT.
>> AND IT IS NOT THE JOB OF THE
COPS.
PEOPLE HAVE ACTUALLY DIED AT THE
HANDS OF THE POLICE OFFICERS.
SO WHAT WAS IT THAT YOU WERE
FINDING IN TERMS OF HOW THIS WAS
PLAYING OUT IN REAL-TIME?
>> THERE IS TWO PARTS TO THIS.
ONE OF THEM IS TRAINING.
YOU WANT TO TRAIN A POLICE
OFFICER TO UNDERSTAND.
THE IDEA IS TO DE-ESCALATE.
WHEN YOU GO INTO A SITUATION
LIKE THIS, IN A LOT OF WAYS, IT
IS VERY, IT IS UNPREDICTABLE.
YOU DON'T GO IN THE WAY YOU'RE
CONDUCTING A DRUG BUY OR
SOMETHING.
THE NYPD HAS BEEN TRYING TO
TRAIN POLICE OFFICERS, AND THERE
ARE 46,000 POLICE OFFICERS.
THEY HAVE SAID, THE CITY HAS
SAID THEY'LL TRAIN EVERYBODY.
THEY'RE UP TO ABOUT 10,800.
IT TAKES TIME.
THEY ARE MENTAL HEALTH
CLINICIANS WHO WOULD ACCOMPANY
COPS TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATION.
THEY CALL IT A REFERRAL.
WE HAVE A PERSON IN OUR PROGRAM
WHO IS ACTING OUT.
WE NEED SOME POLICE ASSISTANCE.
THEY WOULD SEND TWO POLICE
OFFICERS WITH A MENTAL HEALTH
CLINICIAN.
A GOOD IDEA.
THE PROBLEM IS THEY'VE BARELY
USED IT.
THEY'VE HAD IN IT EFFECT FOR
THREE FULL YEARS.
THEY'VE HAD APPROXIMATELY 1,900
REFERRALS COMPARED TO 109,000911
CALLS.
WHY?
THEY KEPT IT OUT OF 911.
THEY DECIDED TO DO THAT.
THEY ARE NOW LOOKING AT I AGAIN
AND SAYING, MAYBE WE NEED TO PUT
THIS INTO 911 AND EXPAND IT SO
YOU WOULD THEN HAVE SOMEBODY WHO
KNOWS HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS
SITUATION.
ACCOMPANYING THE COP WHEN'S
THEY'RE DEALING WITH THIS.
BUT THEY'RE ONLY NOW TRYING TO
DO IT.
>> SPEAKING OF 911, THERE WAS A
RECENT INCIDENT, I BELIEVE YOU
WERE TWEETING ABOUT IT.
IN REGARD TO A CASE OF ONE
GENTLEMAN WHO, PEOPLE IN THE
NEIGHBORHOOD SAW HIM ACTING
ERRAT
ERRATICALLY.
THEY CALLED 911.
COPS SHOWED UP THINKING HE HAD A
GUN AND UNFORTUNATELY HE WAS
SHOT AND KILLED.
I BELIEVE OUR NEW ATTORNEY
GENERAL RECENTLY RELEASED A
REPORT INDICATING WHERE THE
BREAKDOWNS WERE.
>> YES, I'M HAPPY TO TALK ABOUT
THAT.
WHAT HAPPENED WAS ON APRIL 4,
2018, A MAN, 34 YEARS OLD,
BIPOLAR, WAS WALKING UP AND DOWN
THE STREET.
IN HIS NEIGHBORHOOD AROUND THE
CORNER FROM WHERE HE LIVES.
EVERYBODY KNOWS HIM IN THE
NEIGHBORHOOD.
ONE OF THESE GUYS EVERYBODY
KNOWS.
AND HE WOULD HANG OUT AT THE
BARBER SHOP AND HE WOULD DO
LITTLE TOURS FOR PEOPLE.
HE WAS NOT TAKING HIS MEDS.
AND HE HAD A PIECE OF METAL PIPE
IN HIS HAND.
AND IT SORT OF LOOKED LIKE A GUN
IF YOU LOOK AT IT.
WHEN YOU SEE THE VIDEO OF IT.
HE WAS WALKING OUT TO PEOPLE AND
POINTING IT AT THEM.
AND SOME OF THE PEOPLE WERE
LIKE, THEY'RE NEW YORKERS.
THEY'RE LIKE, OH, THAT'S NICE
AND KEPT WALKING.
SOME OF THEM WERE PRETTY FREAKED
OUT.
IT IS A PRETTY FREAKY THING TO
SEE THIS.
THE VIDEO OF IT.
SO THE CALLS START COMING INTO
NEW YORK CITY.
THIS IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF HOW
THE SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE FIXED.
YOU HAVE THREE DIFFERENT PEOPLE
MAKE 911 CALLS ABOUT THIS
PERSON.
AND ALL THREE OF THEM ARE
SAYING, THERE IS A GUY WALKING
UP AND DOWN THE STREET AND HE'S
POINTING WHAT LOOKS LIKE A GUN
AT THESE PEOPLE.
AND THE 911 DISPATCHER.
IS IT A GUN?
I DON'T KNOW.
IT MIGHT BE A GUN.
IT LOOKS LIKE GUN.
IT COULD BE A GUN.
SO NOW THE 911 DISPATCHER TAKES
HAD INFORMATION AND RELAYS IT TO
THE POLICE DEPARTMENT AND THE
FIRE DEPARTMENT.
THIS IS WHERE WE GET INTO
COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN.
SO THERE ARE TWO PARTS TO THIS.
WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE AN INCIDENT
AND WHAT HAPPENS DURING AN
INCIDENT.
SO BEFORE THE INCIDENT, THEY
WERE RELATING SPECIFIC
INFORMATION ABOUT HOW IT MIGHT
BE A GUN.
BUT THAT'S NOT HOW IT WAS
CONVEYED.
IT WAS CONVEYED TO THE NEW YORK
CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT AS, MAN
WITH GUN.
SO THIS IS WHAT, THIS IS THE
INFORMATION THE COPS GET WHEN
THEY'RE SEND OVER TO THE SCENE.
THERE IS A MAN WITH A GUN.
THAT'S THE FIRST PART.
THE SECOND PART IS ONE OF THE
911 CALLERS SAID, HE LOOKS
CRAZY.
SO THAT TRIGGERED AN EDP CALL.
HOWEVER, AND I STILL DON'T
UNDERSTAND THIS.
I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT
HAPPENED HERE.
IT WAS NOT ROUTED TO THE POLICE
DEPARTMENT.
IT WENT TO THE FIRE DEPARTMENT.
SO NONE OF THE COPS HAD ANY CLUE
THIS WAS AN EDP CALL.
WHEN THEY PULLED UP INTO THE
INTERSECTION AND SAW THIS GUY
WALKING BACK AND FORTH, HE
TURNED AROUND AND POINTED LIKE
THIS.
HIS PIPE AT THE COPS.
THAT WAS IT.
IT'S OVER.
AND FOUR OF THEM SHOT HIM.
AND IT WAS A SITUATION THAT
PERHAPS IT COULD HAVE GONE IN A
DIFFERENT WAY.
THE COPS HAD LIMITED
INFORMATION.
>> APPARENTLY NOT CORRECT
INFORMATION.
>> THEY'RE GIVEN A CERTAIN
AMOUNT OF INFORMATION THAT THEY
HAD TO DEAL WITH.
SO OUR NEW STATE ATTORNEY
GENERAL CONCLUDED HER
INVESTIGATION AND SAID THAT THE
COPS WERE JUSTIFIED.
BASED ON THE INFORMATION THEY
WERE GIVEN AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES
THAT UNFOLDED.
SO AGAIN, THIS SYSTEM, THERE'S
SOMETHING BROKEN ABOUT IT.
WHEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENS
AND AGAIN, THIS IS SOMEONE'S
SON.
AND YOU KNOW, AGAIN, I TALKED TO
HIS FATHER.
AND HIS FATHER IS OBVIOUSLY
HEART BROKEN.
I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU GET OVER
SOMETHING LIKE THIS.
THEY ALL KNOW ABOUT HIM.
THE COPS KNOW ABOUT HIM.
ALL WE'RE TRYING TO DO AT THE
CITY IS TO TRY ON GET PEOPLE TO
FOCUS ON THINGS.
THE de BLASIO ADMINISTRATION IS
FOCUSING ON THIS ISSUE BUT IT IS
NOT REALLY FUNCTIONING
CORRECTLY.
AND I CERTAINLY THINK THAT THE
CO-RESPONDER IDEA, THE IDEA OF
HAVING SOMEONE WITH SOME SORT OF
MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
BACKGROUND INVOLVED IN THESE
THINGS, SEEMS TO BE A GOOD IDEA
BUT IT IS EXTREMELY LIMITED.
I KNOW JUST NOW, THEY'RE LOOKING
AT EXPANDING IT.
I THINK THAT'S A GOOD APPROACH.
>> OF COURSE WE'LL LOOK FORWARD
TO MORE OF YOUR REPORTING.
WE WANT TO SEE LESS SHOOTING
DEATHS FROM THE COPS IN THE
CITY.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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