Report suggests police should plan for mental health crises

January 27, 2022 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Law enforcement agencies in Maine need to implement plans to respond to reports of people in the midst of mental health crises, a new report from the state’s deadly force review panel said.

The report suggested that police need to frequently communicate with mental health professionals while also receiving training to deal with mental health crises. Departments that cannot afford to hire mental health professionals should also train officers about local resources in their areas, The Bangor Daily News reported Wednesday.

Between 2017 and 2020, the panel assessed 10 cases involving officers who used deadly force when responding to calls.

In 10 of the cases reviewed, 90% of the people police used deadly force against were experiencing a mental health crisis. Some 70% of the people involved lived in rural areas, highlighting the necessity of having a plan in place for responding to and communicating about calls involving people in the midst of mental health crises.

The state’s deadly force review panel was created in 2019 to assess the uses of deadly force in police shootings and suggest ways officers can avoid violence in the future after the attorney general’s office reviews the cases.