District of Columbia Being Sued for Sending Armed Police To Mental Health Emergencies

Bread for the City, a D.C. nonprofit that provides food, medical, and social services to low-income residents, has filed a lawsuit against the city for sending armed D.C. police officers as “default” first responders to mental health crises

Filed with the D.C. American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm Sheppard Mullin, the suit argues that D.C.’s current approach to emergency response services violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying people with mental health disabilities effective and equal access to emergency care — care that is otherwise provided when somebody calls 911 for a medical emergency. Instead of being met by trained mental health clinicians, the suit argues, most often individuals in crisis are met by armed police, putting them in further physical danger and exacerbating their mental health emergency.

“Someone who calls 911 for a physical health emergency gets trained medical providers who can treat and stabilize them. But someone who calls 911 for a mental health emergency gets a police officer with handcuffs and a gun,” Susan Mizner, director of the ACLU’s Disability Rights Program, said in a press release announcing the suit on Thursday. More on this story here.

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