Expert: Mental health related police shootings "not terribly unique"

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by Jonathan Costen, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on June 13, 2014 at 6:15 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 13 at 6:29 PM

NORFOLK- The director of Norfolk's Community Services Board is speaking out after two police involved shootings related to mental health patients last week.

On June 4th, Norfolk police tried to take a man from Calvary Towers on East Virginia Beach Boulevard into emergency custody.  Authorities said they shot and killed the man after he threatened an officer with a knife. 

A couple of days later police were called to a home where authorities said a man was threatening his brother with knife.  That man was also shot and killed by an officer.  Police said the caller on that case told a dispatcher that the man was "mentally disturbed."

"What happened in Norfolk over the last couple of weeks is not terribly unique, unfortunately nationally over stressed and under funded.  This puts a strain on all states not just Virginia, but on all states, " Norfolk CSB Executive Director Paige Fuller said.

Fuller says CSB employees and police officers are in the works for training together to form a Crisis Intervention Team or CIT.  She said team members would be trained to better understand people who are mentally ill.

"This extra training is a beautiful thing, it really enhance what each of us do.  As we look at training dispatchers and the sheriff department, so when the sheriff goes out and has to evict someone who is not well, they'll know what they're seeing.  They'll know what to do," Fuller says.

The CSB and other city officials have been working on creating a CIT nearly two years ago.  City officials hope to have it up and running by late summer or September.  Norfolk's CSB serves more than 6,000 people, and last year some 1500 of those people were adults with mental illnesses.
 

 

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