Are People With Mental Illness More Likely to Be Killed by the Police?

 Posted on November 23,2020 in Criminal Defense

Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney for police brutalityThe issue of police brutality and other forms of misconduct by police officers has been at the forefront of public debate over the past decade. These concerns have become even more prevalent in 2020 due to multiple incidents in which criminal suspects were killed by the police, sparking nationwide protests. Along with raising concerns about racial discrimination and the use of excessive force, advocates for criminal justice reform have noted that in many cases, incidents involving harm to suspects occur because police officers are ill-equipped to address emergency calls involving people who suffer from mental illnesses.

High Fatality Rates in Police Calls Involving Mental Illness

A number of recent studies have looked at cases in which police officers throughout the United States responded to situations involving mental health concerns, and they found some troubling results. Around one fourth of the cases in which a person was killed in an encounter with police officers occurred in situations where officers were responding to reports of “disruptive behavior” related to mental illness or substance abuse. In addition, people with untreated mental health issues are 16 times more likely to be killed by police than other civilians, and police shootings that result in the death of a person with mental illness are 39% more likely to occur in small or mid-sized towns rather than large cities.

Police officers are trained to respond to potential threats, and they are authorized to use deadly force when they fear for their lives. Because of this, they may not be properly equipped to deal with those who are suffering from mental illness. If a person behaves erratically or unexpectedly, police officers are more likely to respond with force rather than attempting to deescalate the situation. 

To address these concerns, many advocates are calling for a different approach to dealing with emergencies involving those with mental illnesses. Cities throughout the United States have begun to implement new programs in which firefighters, emergency medical technicians, social workers, and other personnel with mental health training respond to 911 calls involving social or behavioral concerns. By reducing police involvement in these types of non-violent, non-criminal matters, these cities are hoping to lower the numbers of cases in which people are killed in encounters with police officers.

Contact Our Hartford Criminal Defense Lawyer

Even though many cities and states are taking steps to address police violence, suspects continue to face excessive force by police officers. If you have been mistreated during an arrest, our Connecticut criminal defense attorney can help you understand how this may affect your case. We will work with you to defend against criminal charges while protecting your rights at all times. Contact our office at 860-290-8690 to arrange a free consultation today.


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