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Chicago Police to Get More Mental Illness Training

  • Amanda Scott

People place candles in a make-shift memorial as they attend a vigil in honor of Bettie Jones, a mother of five and college student Quintonio LeGrier, at Gwendolyn Brooks Academy in Chicago, Illinois, Dec. 29, 2015.

People place candles in a make-shift memorial as they attend a vigil in honor of Bettie Jones, a mother of five and college student Quintonio LeGrier, at Gwendolyn Brooks Academy in Chicago, Illinois, Dec. 29, 2015.

Police and emergency dispatchers in the U.S. city of Chicago will receive more crisis training to help them better interact with people in the midst of a mental health emergency, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday.

The mayor has said the goal of the program is to make sure first responders "have the right training, practice, and preparations to de-escalate crisis situations safely and effectively.''

The announcement follows the December shooting of Quintonio LeGrier, a young man whose father described him as "mentally disturbed" in a call to 911 when he reportedly threatened him with a baseball bat.

When police responded they shot and killed LeGrier as well as a neighbor who opened her door at the wrong time.

"We know that this training program saves lives, reduces injury, increases access to care and provides safety and security to our communities," said Alexa James, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago.

Last month, Emanuel announced plans to train Chicago police on how to intervene in violent domestic situations involving suspects who are drunk, mentally ill, high on drugs, or simply out of control. He said police would also be given electronic stun guns that can disable a suspect without having to use bullets.

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