A deputy spots a man walking erratically down a city sidewalk, yelling at passersby and getting dangerously close to some of their faces. As she approaches the man to ask him to stop bothering others, he gets louder and angrier. It’s clear that he perceives the deputy as a threat.
How this encounter ends depends on the deputy’s training and whether she is able to quickly discern that the man has a serious mental illness. Perhaps, if she is lucky, she has crisis intervention team training. She successfully deescalates the situation as she calls for backup. But what happens next? Does the man get the help he needs, or is the same scene destined to play out again in the coming weeks? And if law enforcement needs to respond to this man again, will the situation be resolved as well as it was before?
In response to the mental health crisis taxing communities of man hours and millions of dollars, the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) will soon launch a system called MIRACLE™: Mental Illness Response Alternatives Center for Law Enforcement. The system will enable first responders to not only better handle the immediate concerns of ensuring community safety when encountering a person with serious mental illness, but also to focus on long-term solutions. Read more in Rob Weinhold’s recent article published in Sheriff & Deputy Magazine via the National Sheriff’s Association or visit miraclesaves.org to learn more and support this important new initiative.