Cleveland Police Release Draft Guidelines for Dealing with Individuals with Mental Health Issues

Nov 29, 2016

Credit CITY OF CLEVELAND

The Cleveland Police Department has proposed new guidelines for officers called to handle health crisis situations.  It’s part of the city’s police reform efforts with the U.S. Justice Department.  

The guidelines start at the beginning of an encounter -- with dispatchers trained to send a crisis intervention team officer to handle any incidents that might involve a behavioral health issue.  The CIT officers, who have received specialized training in de-escalation, will – quote -- “only use force which is necessary, proportional… and objectively reasonable,” according to the draft proposal. The Cleveland Police Department’s CIT Coordinator, Captain James Purcell, says officers will approach health crisis situations with a different mindset.

We’re looking at kind of an active listening, being a little more open to what people have to say, and have a little more understanding and more rapport with them so we can deal with them and get some better outcomes for them.

In 2014, a DOJ report found officers in the Cleveland Police Department “use excessive force against individuals who are in mental health crisis.”