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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New NYPD system alerts officers on the mentally ill

A day after the NYPD used a stun gun on an emotionally disturbed man, Iman Morales, volunteers meticulously cleaned blood from the sidewalk. Morales died when he fell from the second floor ledge in Brooklyn. (Newsday Photo / Ari Mintz / September 25, 2008)


The New York Police Department has a new alert system that lets officers know if they are responding to locations where police have previously been sent to deal with the mentally ill, an initiative sparked by the fatal 2007 shooting of a man who confronted officers with a broken wine bottle.

Under terms of the month-old initiative, a 911 dispatcher handling a "triggering incident" -- anything from a "shots fired" call to an assault in progress -- checks the address to see if it has been the scene of three previous incidents involving an emotionally disturbed person in the preceding 365 days, according to an internal NYPD order.

If so, the dispatcher tells responding officers about the previous incidents and sends to the scene an ambulance and the Emergency Service Unit, whose officers are best-trained to deal with the mentally ill.

A police patrol supervisor, who is usually armed with a portable Taser, is also sent to the scene. [Mark Godsey]

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