In the July 1 front-page article “Distraught people, deadly results,” The Post reported that 124 people with mental illness — nine in 10 of whom were armed with some kind of weapon — were killed by police in the first six months of 2015. But the danger goes the other way, too. The Treatment Advocacy Center found that half the attacks on officers are by people with mental illness.
The last thing any police officer wants to do is pull a gun, as it is a sign that something has gone terribly wrong. But increasingly, officers are being forced to pull their guns, and often it’s to protect the public from someone known to be seriously mentally ill whom the mental-health system has let go untreated. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act introduced by Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) would reduce police shootings of people with mental illness and shootings of police by people with mental illness. It would make it easier to get mentally ill people treatment before they become dangerous. It would also give the mental-health system encouragement to focus its resources on the most seriously ill.
Michael C. Biasotti, New Windsor, N.Y.
The writer is chairman of the Committee on Untreated Severe Mental Illness of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police.
D.J. Jaffe, New York
The writer is executive director of Mental Illness Policy Org.
The Post is to be commended for its compilation and analysis of deadly police shootings. Collecting the data must be a tremendous job and a costly one. But the documentation of this national disgrace is a powerful incentive for the public to demand that government at the national, state and local levels act to correct this abuse. Without the information about the ubiquity of this miscarriage of justice, it would simply grind on.
Thomas Fina, Alexandria