1A Across America: Unpolicing Mental Illness "Any investment in a community is a mental health initiative," says Vice's Shayla Love.

Want to support 1A? Give to your local public radio station and subscribe to this podcast. Have questions? Find us on Twitter @1A.

A note to listeners: We played some audio at 0:35 of a police officer tasing a man with a mental disability in distress. This is a non-lethal encounter that took place in Glendale, Arizona last summer. The audio is disturbing. If you'd like to skip it, it lasts for about 30 seconds.
NPR logo

1A Across America: Unpolicing Mental Illness

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/885550145/885607311" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
1A Across America: Unpolicing Mental Illness

1A

1A Across America: Unpolicing Mental Illness

1A Across America: Unpolicing Mental Illness

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/885550145/885607311" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Washington, DC police cruisers parked on K Street at the Occupy encampment in McPherson Square. KAREN BLEIER/KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
KAREN BLEIER/KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images

Washington, DC police cruisers parked on K Street at the Occupy encampment in McPherson Square.

KAREN BLEIER/KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images

Law enforcement officials have become the de facto facilitators of mental health care in America, according to a survey of law enforcement officials from last year.

But many police officers have little or no training on how to deal with a person with serious mental illness. The results can often be deadly. A 2015 Washington Post investigation found that police shot and killed a person having a mental health crisis every 36 hours in the first six months of that year.

With protestors calling to defund the police, cities and towns nationwide are exploring ways to separate law enforcement from mental health care.

We explored what that could look like with Shayla Love, senior staff writer for Vice, Leslie Harod, Colorado State Representative (8th District). and Joseph Smarro, law enforcement officer with experience on San Antonio Police Department Mental Health Unit and Crisis Intervention Team.

A note to listeners: We played some audio at 0:35 of a police officer tasing a man with a mental disability in distress. This is a non-lethal encounter that took place in Glendale, Arizona last summer. The audio is disturbing. If you'd like to skip it, it lasts for about 30 seconds.

This conversation is part of our 1A Across America partnership with KUNC in Colorado.

It's a collaboration with six public radio stations that brings more local and regional perspectives into the national conversation. 1A Across America is funded through a grant from The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. CPB is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 that is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting.

Like what you hear? Find more of our programs online.