Editorial: Police Agencies Should Follow Westminster’s Lead, Take One Mind Pledge

The Baltimore Sun

By Baltimore Sun Editorial Staff

Good data on the frequency of interactions law enforcement officers have with individuals who are suffering from a mental illness is hard to come by, but anecdotally, these types of interactions do seem to be on the rise. Some police departments estimate as many as 20 percent of calls for service involve a mental health issue in some way.

Police are often called by business owners or community members who want law enforcement to “do something” about a person who may be guilty of committing low-level, misdemeanor crimes or exhibiting nuisance behavior, such as loitering or public drunkenness, according to a 2012 report from the Council of State Governments Justice Center. These types of interactions occur in communities across the country every day, from large cities to rural villages, and every place in between, like Carroll County.

Often, these encounters end in use of force. “Research consistently finds at least 25 percent of those persons killed by police in the United States were affected by mental illness,” according to a post by Louis M. Dekmar in The Police Chief magazine from November 2017.

Because of this, the International Association of Chiefs of Police launched the One Mind Campaign “to ensure successful interactions between police officers and persons affected by mental illness,” according to language outlined in the pledge for law enforcement agencies, and get communities, public safety and mental health organizations to start working together and becoming “of one mind.”

Continue reading.