“Deborah Danner should be alive right now. Period,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio of the 66-year-old schizophrenic Bronx woman who was fatally shot by police on October 18.
After police were called to the scene of her apartment complex where Danner was having an episode, police attempted to restrain her. But after she picked up a baseball bat and swung at one of the officer’s head, the officer responded by shooting her twice in the chest, killing her.
“What is clear in this one instance, we failed. I want to know why it happened,” said the new Police Commissioner James O’Neill. “We do have policies and procedures for handling [the emotionally disturbed] and it looks like some of those procedures weren’t followed.”
This incident, just like the 56 similar other ones last year, clearly points to the critical need for police officers to receive training and a support system that does not require violence but medical treatment for the emotionally disturbed person, said State Senator Kevin Parker of Brooklyn.
Since then, Parker has introduced legislation, the Crisis Intervention Team Act, Senate Bill 6365, calling for the formation of Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) in City of New York.
“It is a compassionate and thoughtful measure intended to save lives and bridge the chasm between those in emotional crisis and law enforcement authorities,” said Parker. “It is aimed at creating a pathway to reducing the frequency of these incidents and ultimately eliminating them altogether.”
According to the legislation, CIT will provide specialized training for officers of the NYPD enabling them to respond to EDP calls in a manner that increases the safety of the emotionally disturbed citizen, the police officer, and bystanders; thereby creating better outcomes for all. In addition to the specialized training, with the creation of CITs, police officers will have access to mental health professionals who have the tools necessary to defuse situations involving this vulnerable population segment.
“People… like Deborah Danner are not criminals, just individuals who are sick and in crisis,” said Parker., adding that his bill does not rely upon the standard ‘command and control’ protocol that has led to unfortunate deaths.
“I offer my sincerest condolences to the Banner family during this difficult time, and I stand eager to work with my colleagues in government to pass the CIT Act this legislative session,” said Parker.