CMPD offers training to help deal with mental illnesses

A deadly police shooting in a local neighborhood - still under investigation.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A suicidal man is dead and a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer is on paid administrative leave after shooting the man during a Wednesday afternoon call. 

CMPD made mental health training for officers a priority when it launched its Crisis Intervention Team in 2008. However, did any of those officers with the training respond to the call in the 1000 block of Justice Avenue near Uptown Charlotte? NBC Charlotte asked CMPD this and is awaiting a response. 

Judy Reiner, a Board Member of the Charlotte chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), is a facilitator for the mental health training for CMPD and other agencies in Mecklenburg County.

"There are crisis-trained police officers and sheriff's officer that will respond who have more tools in their tool belt, more things they can use to deescalate a situation," she explained.

Reiner says nationally, about 30 percent of law enforcement officers have undergone this training, compared to 35 percent of CMPD's force. 

"I think we've made some in roads, I think that people are well aware of the difference between someone who is violent and someone who is mentally ill," she explained. "What we teach most often, is safety for the officer and the individuals involved," Reiner said.

However, not every encounter ends safely for all involved. 

People with mental illnesses are 16 times more likely to be killed by police nationwide. In spite of the existence of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), CMPD has had several deadly incidents in the last decade.

Investigators say Wednesday's shooting began as a call for help from a relative.

"Around 1 p.m., we got a call for service -- a subject was threatening suicide," said Chief Kerr Putney.

It is not clear if the officer who fired his weapon, Officer Brian Walsh was a member of the Crisis Intervention Team. He is currently on paid administrative leave after shooting Iaroslav Mosiiuk. Reiner says she isn't sure if this call would have warranted the response of a CIT trained officer.

"It depends on the call," Reiner said. "If someone says there's a gun involved there may be a whole different group of people that go out."

Police say Mosiiuk had a hunting rifle and Officer Walsh responded with shots after feeling imminent danger.

"Everyone should feel like they can call on someone to help them," Reiner said. "At the same time, the officer has to feel comfortable in the situation he's walking into."

Reiner says 911 dispatchers undergo this training as well and have a list of CTI officers on duty at their disposal. This allows them to request a CTI officer in the area to respond directly to a call. 

Reiner also encourages people calling 911 to help a loved one facing a mental health issue and request a CTI officer for response.

Copyright 2017 WCNC


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