So far this year, police around the country have shot and killed 462 people; 124 of whom were armed and in the midst of a mental or emotional crisis, reports The Washington Post.
The number accounts for a quarter of the nearly 500 people fatally shot by police in the first six months of 2015, the report says. And mental health experts say the statistics raise questions about whether police are properly trained and equipped to deal with people who are unstable, notes the report.
The Post says the numbers reflect the overall population of police shooting victims: “They were overwhelmingly men, more than half of them white. Nine in 10 were armed with some kind of weapon, and most died close to home.”
From The Washington Post:
The vast majority were armed, but in most cases, the police officers who shot them were not responding to reports of a crime. More often, the police officers were called by relatives, neighbors or other bystanders worried that a mentally fragile person was behaving erratically, reports show. More than 50 people were explicitly suicidal.
More than half the killings involved police agencies that have not provided their officers with state-of-the-art training to deal with the mentally ill. And in many cases, officers responded with tactics that quickly made a volatile situation even more dangerous.
The Post analysis provides for the first time a national, real-time tally of the shooting deaths of mentally distraught individuals at the hands of law enforcement. Criminal-justice experts say that police are often ill equipped to respond to such individuals — and that the encounters too often end in needless violence.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, an independent research organization devoted to improving policing, described the shootings as a national crisis, the Post says. “We have to get American police to rethink how they handle encounters with the mentally ill. Training has to change,” he told the news outlet.
Check out the Post’s interactive map of the shootings here.
SOURCE: The Washington Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty