In the wake of recent police shootings across the country, Fulton County’s police chief said he’s considering the creation of special units to help officers in the field respond to people with mental illnesses.
At a meeting of Fulton County mayors Wednesday, Chief Gary Stiles cited the recent fatal shooting this week of a black man in California, when police were called to investigate a report about a mentally unstable man.
“We are all one call away from that,” Stiles said. He said the crisis intervention units could be made up mental health and medical professionals to provide support to officers.
“Training is often brought up and it is important but training alone isn’t going to solve the issue,” he said. “We have asked way too much of the average police officers over the years. Every time society has another problem – ‘let’s train the officer to handle it’ – it just doesn’t work that way.”
He said he’s currently working on a survey to police departments across Fulton County and trying to collect information about how many of the calls police officers receive end up becoming a response to someone with a mental illness.
“If we can prevent one tragic incident where either the citizen of the officer is hurt – or, God forbid, killed – then it’s worth it,” Stiles said.
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