A first responder cannot shoot a peer in crisis if a first responder doesn’t have a gun.

I developed CIT training for APD so they won’t shoot peers. I trained APD so they won’t shoot peers. I trained APD how to deescalate. For four years I collaborated with APD on this.

Max Mitnik was shot by APD during a mental health crisis call. He is in critical condition.

Man in critical condition after being shot by APD in Tanoan

This young man needed a ride to the hospital. Talking with my friend in Tanoan, this young man was willing to go to the hospital. Needing a ride to the hospital is not a tactical response, it’s a medical response.

Here’s the rub: Law enforcement is the improper first responder for a mental health crisis.

I stuck around helping APD until unresolved internal conflict and shady bureaucracy overwhelmed the important work my peer colleagues and I were doing. We moved on to other community projects.

What peers remained are of the “rubber stamp approval” variety important to passing unpopular policy that is insensitive to true peer needs. That another peer was shot in his home trying to get help for his mental health crisis is a strong indicator of a lack of independent peer advisement. I place a great amount of liability on these rubber stampers for allowing CIT training to falter so disappointingly. It only took two years.

During this forced isolation, I’ve had time to think directly and productively about where my advocacy efforts lie. I felt I had gone as far as possible with police deescalation training, and this Tanoan shooting shows I am right in just this. I can’t advise and train law enforcement any better than I have. I gave everything of myself to marginal success.

While training APD is completed for me, this doesn’t mean I’m finished advocating for peers in mental health crisis. This downtime gave me time to rethink and expand upon CIT efficacy and solutions. So, here is my advocacy project going forward:

Law enforcement is removed as first responder to mental health crisis.

Medical-trained first responders are employed instead.

Again, a mental health crisis is a medical emergency and not a tactical emergency. A first responder cannot shoot a peer if the first responder doesn’t have a gun.

Simple. And, it’s the final solution to a failed deescalation training experiment.

I’m not alone is this advocacy. Peers around the world join with me and I with them.

Get ready. Real reform for mental health crisis is coming. Want to help? Buzz me.

1 Comment

  1. Patty

    Thank you and keep me posted, plz. It’s frustrating that this happened! Hopefully, the officers body camera was on & recorded the peer being aggressive with the knife. Still not sure it’s a reason to shoot him though. PS I haven’t heard the term “peer” used in this context. Is it an acronym?

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