Some Police Officers Have Been Mishandling Mental Health Crises


Deceased police brutality victim, Christian Hall and his family. Photo retrieved via the Justice for Christian Hall website.

Sofia Farres, Editor-in-Chief

On December 30, 2020, 19-year-old Chinese-American Christian Hall experienced a mental health crisis in Pennsylvania. The police were called in hopes that they could de-escalate the crisis. 

Unfortunately, rather than assisting him, the officers shot and killed him as he stood on the SR-33 overpass to I-80 with his hands up, showing that he was no threat to the officers who were armed. 

This is not the only situation in which police have mishandled a mental health crisis. It also happened in August of 2019 to a young autistic black man named Elijah McClain who died as a result of the force they used. Countless others have also been victims of police brutality during mental health crises. 

Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian and Indigenous Americans are disproportionately affected by incidents of police brutality. Many people now believe that police officers are simply not equipped to handle these situations. 

Police officers have always been called on in situations when help is needed. For many years now though, there have been situations in which they have responded improperly to a person having a mental health crisis. 

This coupled with the incidents of police brutality brought to light by the Black Lives Matter organization has created a lack of trust among many of the people in the United States and the police force. 

“The law is supposed to be just, but in these situations I really question if it is,” said ILS Junior Victoria Betancourt. 

This has sparked the need for conversation among citizens, and many young adults feel passionately about these issues. All over social media, young adults are raising awareness about instances of police brutality and presenting solutions. 

“I think that for the incidents to not occur we should raise the qualifications to be a police officer including taking at least one year of human psychology,” said ILS junior Alvaro Amat. 

While many people are trying to be proactive and come up with solutions, others are afraid for their lives and the lives of the people they love. 

“It honestly terrifies me to see so many incidents of police brutality taking place, especially towards minorities who struggle with their mental health. At the end of the day, we don’t know when we may need help and the fact that some of the people who we’ve always been told we could trust to help us are killing innocent people is deeply unsettling,” said ILS senior Fernanda Valdez. 

It is important to note that not all police officers handle situations violently, however the system in which they are apart of does need to change in order for these incidents to stop happening. 

Within our ILS community, there is a great drive to fight for social justice, especially among students. Hopefully, the next generations can work to improve the system and prevent these terrible killings from happening.