This op-ed was originally published by Austin American-Statesman.
All too often fear tips the balance between a life that sees the light of another day and one that ends violently. The fear stems from opposing forces — the individual suffering from severe mental illness who may be experiencing psychosis and police who are too often not prepared to handle a mental health crisis. When it comes to mental health and policing, the goal is simple — everyone goes home safely to see another sunrise.
But that doesn’t happen many times.
Since 2015, a whopping 5,480 people have been shot and killed by police, and 22 percent of them — 1,226 — were in a mental health crisis, according to a Washington Post database of fatal police shootings. A 2019 report by the Human Rights Clinic of the University of Texas School of Law and the Austin Community Law Center found that out of 24 people killed in police shootings in Austin from 2010 to 2016, at least one-third had a confirmed mental health condition. Read more.
A version of this op-ed also appeared in the San Antonio Express-News, Dallas Morning News and the Brownwood Bulletin.