Please join leading mental health advocates in endorsing this sign-on statement and share our collective voice to media and policy makers.

"We are mental health and disability professionals, advocates, consumer/survivors, family members, people with disabilities, community members, and our organizations.

We call for an end to police involvement with mental health response, including an end to 'wellness checks' and 'welfare checks' and an end to police response to mental health and suicide 911 calls.

Police have no role to play in mental health care. Sending police often makes situations worse and risks provoking violence, which disproportionately affects people of color and people with disabilities.

We join Black Lives Matter and call to invest in compassionate community based alternatives to mental health responses.

"We ask concerned individuals and organizations to join this call and to use our collective voice to press for immediate policy change at the local, state, and federal levels."

SOME OF THE PEOPLE KILLED EVERY YEAR BY POLICE WELLNESS/ WELFARE CHECKS
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How often are police involved in a mental health crisis?

Across the US, when people are in a mental health crisis, police are usually the first ones called. Only a very small percentage of calls (4%) concerning mental health emergencies result in EMS responding without police. Source: Alternatives to Police in Mental Health Response Fact SheetApproximately 10% of all police contacts involve persons with serious mental illness. Source: Emerging Partnerships Between Mental Health and Law Enforcement

How often do police kill people with mental health issues?
In the US, at least one in four people killed by the police has a serious mental health problem. For example, in 2016, a quarter of all fatal police shootings nationwide involved people with behavioral health or substance use conditions. Source: Number of fatal shootings by police is nearly identical to last year

How often do police kill Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who have mental health issues?
Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed by police as whites. Black American boys and men are three times more likely to be killed by the police than white boys and men. Source: Local police involved in 400 killings per yearNative Americans are the only group as likely to be killed by police as Black people. Source: The Media’s Failure to Cover Police Use of Lethal Force Against Native Americans

What is Racial Trauma?
Racial trauma, or race-based traumatic stress (RBTS), refers to the mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination, racism, and hate crimes. Source: Racial TraumaRacial trauma may result from racial harassment, witnessing racial violence, or experiencing institutional racism. Source: Racial Trauma is Real: The Impact of Police Shootings on African Americans

What is the impact of racial trauma on BIPOC mental health?
“When other black Americans experience discrimination and police brutality, the black community as a whole can be subjected to a mental health spillover effect, increasing their fear, vulnerability, and selfconcept” (Metzger, 2019). Source: Don't Shoot: Race-Based Trauma and Police BrutalityKillings of unarmed black Americans by police have a significant population level impact on mental health. Source: Police killings and their spillover effects on the mental health of black Americans: a population-based, quasi-experimental study“Ethnic minorities who have experienced police brutality, directly or indirectly, may think about these instances when they do not want to think about them (nightmares, flashbacks, etc.), attempt to avoid interface with police officers (running from police, etc.), and remain in a psychological state of high vigilance, on guard against the possibility of abuse at the hands of the police” (Davis et al., 2017, p. 854). Source: The Trauma Lens of Police Violence against Racial and Ethnic Minorities

What are Alternative Models to Police “Wellness” Checks?
A mental health crisis calls for compassionate community responders, not armed police. These alternatives can include: crisis lines or other technology which specialize in responding to mental health emergencies, alternatives to using law enforcement to transport persons to chosen mental health services and a wider array of crisis services as alternatives to police custody and hospitalization, These can be in the forms of: Mobile Crisis Teams, Peer Crisis Services, and peer Respite Source: Position Statement 59: Responding To Behavioral Health Crises, Crisis Services: Effectiveness, Cost-Effectiveness, and Funding Strategies

What are some examples of alternatives to police involvement in mental health “wellness” checks?
MH First, Sacramento CA: Sun 7am-7pm , call/text/DM on social mediaMACRO (Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland), Oakland, CA: a proposed pilot to respond to some 911 calls in Oakland with a counselor and an EMT instead of police. For the calls that don’t really require a badge and a gun, if they’re responded to by a M.A.C.R.O. type team it enables the police to spend their time on calls that are genuinely criminal or violent in nature. Instead of hiring licensed clinicians, the program would use specially trained counselors and emergency medical technicians to resolve non-violent police calls for service.MH Ambulance Stockholm, Sweden: an ambulance devoted entirely to mental health care. It looks like a regular ambulance on the outside, but instead of stretchers, it’s got cozy seats — perfect for a therapy session on wheels. Two mental health nurses and one paramedic travel on board. Most of the emergency cases they handle involve people at risk of suicide; sometimes, they involve people having a psychotic episode.CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Street), Eugene, OR: handles non-criminal crises involving people who are homeless, disoriented, or intoxicated, have a mental illness, or are enmeshed in an escalating dispute. CAHOOTS is dispatched through the Eugene police-fire-ambulance communications center, and within the Springfield urban growth boundary, dispatched through the Springfield non-emergency number. Each team consists of a medic (either a nurse or an EMT) & a crisis worker (who has at least several years experience in the mental health field). CAHOOTS provides immediate stabilization in case of urgent medical need or psychological crisis, assessment, information, referral, advocacy & (in some cases) transportation to the next step in treatment.NYC mobile crisis teams New York, NY: A mobile crisis team is a group of health professionals, such as nurses, social workers and psychiatrists, who can provide mental health services, primarily in people's homes.There are about two dozen teams in the city, and they are available in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.United Kingdom: mental health calls are largely handled by the National Health Service, not policeIndigenous peoples have long used and still do use traditional forms of governance and interventions in place of police and prisons, including restorative justice and community engagement with crisis. Source: Alternatives to Police in Mental Health Response Fact SheetOpen Dialogue: Working with families and social networks, as much as possible in their own homes and early when problems emerge. Open Dialogue in a Finnish approach now gaining support worldwide as a model with better recovery outcomes and lower use of hospitals, medication, and disability payments. Teams help those involved in a crisis to be together and to engage in dialogue, listening as long as it takes for root causes, and new resources, to emerge. By working patiently with the extreme emotion in a crisis situation, and tolerate the uncertainty of how to respond, in time shared meaning usually emerges and healing is possible. California Peer Run Warm Line: The Peer-Run Warm Line is a non-emergency resource for anyone in California seeking emotional support. They provide assistance via phone and webchat. Counselors are all peers, with their own lived experiences of mental health challenges.Hearing Voices Network: provides a global grassroots community response of listening circles where people with altered and different realities - including voices and visions that might be labeled as psychosis - can find support and community to prevent crisis and reconnect with the community.

ALLIED ORGANIZATION STATEMENTS

ARTICLES

WHY COMPASSION?

The alternative to the police is compassionate community response by people who can provide empathy, patience, understanding, time, warmth, effective communication, and above all listening. And ensuring this response has the resources needed to be a real response.

The alternative to the police is not neglect or abandoning those in need. We have seen how the closing of the state hospitals led to community neglect. We have seen how the prison system - and homelessness - filling in the gap of neglect. Many people in need only reach a crisis point because they have been neglected for too long. Compassion means focusing on prevention and offering easy access to voluntary services controlled by the communities people live in. Compassion does not mean prisons or homelessness should be the only options for those struggling with mental health crisis.

The alternative to the police is not social workers, doctors, or professionals deputized to act like police and force people into treatment. We have seen the "medical industrial complex" abuse and mistreat people with coercion, force, and violence that essentially sees suffering people as criminals. We reject a return to the abusive era of asylums and the "men in white coats."

The alternative to the police is not more trauma. Many people treated by the mental health system - especially people of color and poor people - have been traumatized by the very treatment that is meant to help them. Compassionate response means caring, patience, listening, and sensitivity.

The alternative to the police is not budget cuts, lack of resources and a nonexistent social safety net. We do not need responders that are burnt-out, overworked, and underfunded.

The alternative to the police is not small, piecemeal reforms that exist at the margins. We need compassion, caring, and listening to be the first response to all mental health 911 calls.

People who have themselves been through mental health crisis - "peers" - are often the best able to provide a caring, compassion response. Professionals can be of help when they approach people as human beings, not as public safety issues.

People with suicidal feelings especially must be met with warmth, caring, and patience - not seen as criminals. A suicidal person is not a threat to others - and may be easily triggered by the police and traumatized by an officer who uses a gun, taser, handcuffs or authoritarian manner to get a person to submit.

VICTIMS OF POLICE WELLNESS/WELFARE CHECKS

These are personal profiles of people that were killed by the police when they were called for a "wellness / welfare check".
REST IN POWER.

RESOURCES

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How often are police involved in a mental health crisis?

Across the US, when people are in a mental health crisis, police are usually the first ones called. Only a very small percentage of calls (4%) concerning mental health emergencies result in EMS responding without police. Source: Alternatives to Police in Mental Health Response Fact SheetApproximately 10% of all police contacts involve persons with serious mental illness. Source: Emerging Partnerships Between Mental Health and Law Enforcement

How often do police kill people with mental health issues?
In the US, at least one in four people killed by the police has a serious mental health problem. For example, in 2016, a quarter of all fatal police shootings nationwide involved people with behavioral health or substance use conditions. Source: Number of fatal shootings by police is nearly identical to last year

How often do police kill people with mental health issues?
In the US, at least one in four people killed by the police has a serious mental health problem. For example, in 2016, a quarter of all fatal police shootings nationwide involved people with behavioral health or substance use conditions. Source: Number of fatal shootings by police is nearly identical to last year

How often does police kill Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who have mental health issues?
Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed by police as whites. Black American boys and men are three times more likely to be killed by the police than white boys and men. Source: Local police involved in 400 killings per yearNative Americans are the only group as likely to be killed by police as Black people. Source: The Media’s Failure to Cover Police Use of Lethal Force Against Native Americans

What is Racial Trauma?
Racial trauma, or race-based traumatic stress (RBTS), refers to the mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination, racism, and hate crimes. Source: Racial TraumaRacial trauma may result from racial harassment, witnessing racial violence, or experiencing institutional racism. Source: Racial Trauma is Real: The Impact of Police Shootings on African Americans

What is the impact of racial trauma on BIPOC mental health?
“When other black Americans experience discrimination and police brutality, the black community as a whole can be subjected to a mental health spillover effect, increasing their fear, vulnerability, and selfconcept” (Metzger, 2019). Source: Don't Shoot: Race-Based Trauma and Police BrutalityKillings of unarmed black Americans by police have a significant population level impact on mental health. Source: Police killings and their spillover effects on the mental health of black Americans: a population-based, quasi-experimental study“Ethnic minorities who have experienced police brutality, directly or indirectly, may think about these instances when they do not want to think about them (nightmares, flashbacks, etc.), attempt to avoid interface with police officers (running from police, etc.), and remain in a psychological state of high vigilance, on guard against the possibility of abuse at the hands of the police” (Davis et al., 2017, p. 854). Source: The Trauma Lens of Police Violence against Racial and Ethnic Minorities

What are Alternative Models to Police “Wellness” Checks?
A mental health crisis calls for compassionate community responders, not armed police. These alternatives can include: crisis lines or other technology which specialize in responding to mental health emergencies, alternatives to using law enforcement to transport persons to chosen mental health services and a wider array of crisis services as alternatives to police custody and hospitalization, These can be in the forms of: Mobile Crisis Teams, Peer Crisis Services, and peer Respite Source: Position Statement 59: Responding To Behavioral Health Crises, Crisis Services: Effectiveness, Cost-Effectiveness, and Funding Strategies

What are some examples of alternatives to police involvement in mental health “wellness” checks?
MH First, Sacramento CA: Sun 7am-7pm , call/text/DM on social mediaMACRO (Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland), Oakland, CA: a proposed pilot to respond to some 911 calls in Oakland with a counselor and an EMT instead of police. For the calls that don’t really require a badge and a gun, if they’re responded to by a M.A.C.R.O. type team it enables the police to spend their time on calls that are genuinely criminal or violent in nature, Instead of hiring licensed clinicians, the program would use specially trained councilors and emergency medical technicians to resolve non-violent police calls for service.MH Ambulance Stockholm, Sweden: an ambulance devoted entirely to mental health care. It looks like a regular ambulance on the outside, but instead of stretchers, it’s got cozy seats — perfect for a therapy session on wheels. Two mental health nurses and one paramedic travel on board. Most of the emergency cases they handle involve people at risk of suicide; sometimes, they involve people having a psychotic episode.CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Street), Eugene, OR: handles non-criminal crises involving people who are homeless, disoriented, or intoxicated, have a mental illness, or are enmeshed in an escalating dispute. CAHOOTS is dispatched through the Eugene police-fire-ambulance communications center, and within the Springfield urban growth boundary, dispatched through the Springfield non-emergency number. Each team consists of a medic (either a nurse or an EMT) & a crisis worker (who has at least several years experience in the mental health field). CAHOOTS provides immediate stabilization in case of urgent medical need or psychological crisis, assessment, information, referral, advocacy & (in some cases) transportation to the next step in treatment.NYC mobile crisis teams New York, NY: A mobile crisis team is a group of health professionals, such as nurses, social workers and psychiatrists, who can provide mental health services, primarily in people's homes.There are about two dozen teams in the city, and they are available in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.United Kingdom: mental health calls are largely handled by the National Health Service, not policeIndigenous peoples have long used and still do use traditional forms of governance and interventions in place of police and prisons, including restorative justice and community engagement with crisis. Source: Alternatives to Police in Mental Health Response Fact SheetOpen Dialogue: Working with families and social networks, as much as possible in their own homes and early when problems emerge. Open Dialogue in a Finnish approach now gaining support worldwide as a model with better recovery outcomes and lower use of hospitals, medication, and disability payments. Teams help those involved in a crisis to be together and to engage in dialogue, listening as long as it takes for root causes, and new resources, to emerge. By working patiently with the extreme emotion in a crisis situation, and tolerate the uncertainty of how to respond, in time shared meaning usually emerges and healing is possible. California Peer Run Warm Line: The Peer-Run Warm Line is a non-emergency resource for anyone in California seeking emotional support. They provide assistance via phone and webchat. Counselors are all peers, with their own lived experiences of mental health challenges.Hearing Voices Network: provides a global grasroots community response of listening circles where people with altered and different realities including voices and visions that might be labeled as psychosis can find support and community to prevent crisis and reconnect with the community.

CONTACT US
compassionnotcops@gmail.com

MEET US

Carmela Dizon
Will Hall
Jay Mahler
Karen McCarthy
Asha Passalacqua
Derek Pyle
Dina Tyler

WHY COMPASSION?

The alternative to the police is compassionate community response by people who can provide empathy, patience, understanding, time, warmth, effective communication, and above all listening. And ensuring this response has the resources needed to be a real response.

The alternative to the police is not neglect or abandoning those in need. We have seen how the closing of the state hospitals led to community neglect and the prison system - and homelessness - filling in the gap. Many people in need only reach a crisis point because they have been neglected for too long. Compassion means focusing on prevention and offering easy access to voluntary services controlled by the communities people live in.

The alternative to the police is not social workers, doctors, or professionals deputized to act like police and force people into treatment. We have seen the "medical industrial complex" abuse and mistreat people with coercion, force, and violence that essentially sees suffering people as criminals. We reject a return to the abusive era of asylums and the "men in white coats."

The alternative to the police is not more trauma. Many people treated by the mental health system - especially people of color and poor people - have been traumatized by the very treatment that is meant to help them. Compassionate response means caring, patience, listening, and sensitivity.

The alternative to the police is not lack of resources and a nonexistent social safety net. We do not need responders that are burnt-out, overworked, and underfunded.

The alternative to the police is not small, piecemeal reforms that exist at the margins. We need the first responders to 911 calls to be compassionate, caring listeners.

People who have themselves been through mental health crisis - "peers" - are often the best able to provide a caring, compassion response. Professionals can be of help when they approach people as human beings, not as public safety issues.

People with suicidal feelings especially must be met with warmth, caring, and patience - not seen as criminals. A suicidal person is not a threat to others - and may be easily triggered by the police and traumatized by an officer who uses a gun, taser, handcuffs or authoritarian manner to get a person to submit.