public safety

Mishandling mental health crises to blame for spike in officer-involved shootings

police shootings in PHX
Above: A close-up photo of yellow crime scene tape. Improving the way police are trained to interact with people who have mental health issues or other disabilities is one of nine recommendations included in the report. (Photo: Shutterstock)

What accounts for the sharp increase in the number of officer-involved shootings in Phoenix last year? A lack of mental health resources, according to a report released by the National Police Foundation on Friday. The report, which was commissioned by the city of Phoenix as a response to last year’s spike in incidences of officer-involved shootings, points to a number of underlying causes for the uptick. That police officers are fielding a growing number of 911 calls involving people with mental health issues is one of them.

Phoenix police officers who were interviewed for the study said they felt unprepared to respond to these kind of situations. Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams added that law enforcement officers shouldn’t be the first (or only) line of help available to people who are experiencing a mental health crisis and that many of the calls her department receives could be rerouted to alternative resources.

Read the Cronkite News story online. You can also download a copy of the National Police Foundation’s 72-page report here.

Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council releases report on sexual abuse of Arizonans with disabilities

 

2019 ADDPC recommendations on preventing abuse
Cover page of the report produced by the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

The Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (ADDPC) has released a special report with recommendations for the Arizona State Legislature and Arizona state agencies to prevent sexual abuse of Arizonans with developmental disabilities.

While the recent crisis at Hacienda HealthCare continues to draw attention to problems within Arizona’s current system of monitoring and reporting sexual abuse of people with disabilities, almost no formal policies designed to recognize and prevent such abuse exist. The Council’s report is called “Sexual Abuse of Arizonans with Developmental and Other Disabilities” and it contains specific actions that state agencies and care providers can take to prevent the sexual abuse of vulnerable adults.

Read the ADDPC report: Sexual Abuse of Arizonans with Developmental and Other Disabilities

 

For Filipinos with disabilities, climate change and natural disasters are a dangerous mix

For almost three decades, Bacita De La Rosa has been unable to walk due to a spinal cord injury she suffered after she was struck by a vehicle. She has since been dependent upon her family for help with many basic needs and cannot leave her home without assistance — all of which has proven to be very difficult when the inevitable tropical storm comes. Credit: Jason Strother/PRI

PRI’s Jason Strother examines how Typhoon Haiyan impacted the disability community in the Philippine city of Tacloban
Read his story on climate change, natural disaster and disability here

Labeling mass shooters as “sickos” perpetuates mental health stigmas

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released a statement condemning the imprecise language recently used by public figures to discuss the connection between mental health and mass shootings. President Trump and Dana Loesch, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, used words including “sicko,” “nuts” and “crazy person” to describe the diagnoses of mass shooter Nikolas Cruz. The NAMI statement criticizes such comments as reinforcing “inaccurate and negative stereotypes” that “create barriers to having real conversations about how to improve the mental health services that lead to recovery and participation in American society by people experiencing mental health conditions.” CNN.com interviewed several mental health experts who also suggested that mental illness is not a reliable condition for predicting violent behavior. Click here to read NAMI’s statement and click here to read CNN’s article.

Power outages in Florida led to 8 deaths at same nursing home

Officials in Hollywood, Florida have opened multiple criminal investigations into the deaths of 8 nursing home residents who died Wednesday morning from heat exhaustion during an ongoing power outage caused by Hurricane Irma. The New York Times is reporting that “More than three million customers in Florida still lacked power Wednesday, including roughly 160 nursing homes, according to the state’s tracking system.” Hollywood local paper The Sun-Sentinel is reporting 115 other senior residents at the home were evacuated from the overheated facility, but their relatives remain confused about their health status.

Mental health therapists helping Harvey survivors cope with ongoing psychological trauma

Anticipating, escaping and recovering from a natural disaster takes a heavy psychological toll on survivors. As they rebuild their lives economically they frequently need emotional support from their community. This article by Tony Plohetski, Andrea Ball and Melissa B. Taboada in the Austin American-Statesman (and reprinted in Chicago Tribune) describes how Texas social workers and psychologists are treating patients with psychological trauma after the storm.  

Coverage on the Attack of a Disabled Man in Chicago

The attack and kidnapping of a man with mental disabilities in Chicago—the act streamed over Facebook Live—has spurred a host of new media reports on violence and disability over the past week.

Here’s some of the reporting:

Fantasy Conventions Present Little Accessibility for Those With Disabilities

Professionals in the fantasy convention world are signing a pledge to refrain from attending the events until accessibility is taken more seriously by organizers. In an article from io9, some panelists at these conventions recount experiences where stages did not have ramps for those using wheelchairs. Read more