On July 1, the Washington Post published a major piece on mental illness and police violence. It’s incredibly important; it’s also important that the conversation moves forward and moves OUT of the illness/CIT conversation and into a disability/accommodation conversation.
CNN wrote a followup piece. It quotes me.
While CIT is working in some communities, some experts remain skeptical that the program can be a perfect solution.
“CIT provides police with all kinds of useful resources. And when combined with adaptive strategic thinking, access to mental health professionals, and good leadership and good culture around applying the lessons of CIT, it can save lives,” said David M. Perry, an associate professor of history at Dominican University in Illinois and a journalist who has written about police violence and disabilities.
But CIT solves the problem only if police can recognize the mental illness in advance and the situation unfolds in a predictable way.
“A lot of these tragedies are where people are suddenly surprised,” Perry said. “They don’t even know it involves disability until afterward.”
In other words, CIT is a medical-model solution. A useful piece. But needs to be a first step, not the last step.
Here’s another piece. This one by the National Council on Disability’s Rebecca Cokley and Lawrence Carter-Long.
So the conversation is happening. Now can we make sure that it moves in a good direction?