Talking about Mental Health: Crystal Police talk about encounters
Police officers deal with stressful, high-pressure situations on a daily basis. Sometimes they confront people with mental illness and other times, it’s the officers themselves who are in need of therapy.
Remembering a tragic incident in Crystal
In May 2017, Crystal Police rushed to Bassett Creek Park after hearing a report of a man sitting on a bench with a gun. The gunman was Khaleel Thompson, an 18-year-old. Thompson had painted a BB-gun to look like a real gun and had called police to the park himself. When Thompson pointed a gun at police and wouldn’t drop it, police fired their guns. Thompson was shot in the head, but survived.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s office did not press charges against the officers. An investigation showed Thompson had a history of mental illness and suicidal reports. He had been living in shelters and with friends.
Responding to Mental Health Crises is nothing new
Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering says her department handles many mental health calls. Crystal had 320 mental health related calls in 2017 out of more than 29,000.
“We’ve been actively looking at ways to embed a mental health professional into our police department,” says Revering.
The department has been meeting with a nonprofit called People Incorporated, which is a mental health provider. The group has social worker embedded with the St. Paul Police Department.
“When they get a mental health call, they go in and make sure there’s a safe environment,” explains Jill Wiedemann-West, the CEO with People Incorporated.
The organization now trains with Crystal Police. Chief Revering would like to have a permanent social worker on staff.
“I would love it,” said Revering. “I don’t know if they’re going to be able to do that from a cost-savings perspective, or if the city is going to be able to afford it. But it’s something that eventually I would love to have done here.”
Want to learn more about Mental Health? Watch our special report, “The Silent Struggle: Talking about Mental Health.”
NAMI Minnesota provides free classes and information for crisis responders, medical and mental health professionals and the general community. If you are concerned about someone or are having thoughts of suicide yourself, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or **CRISIS, or text MN to 741741.