The city board that reviews complaints levied against NYPD officers plans to give a Friday, July 14, 2017, presentation that focuses on how the public should interact with police.
The Civilian Complaint Review Board will be hosting the event at an office belonging to Community Access, an organization that focuses on providing supportive housing and social services.
It is unknown at this time if any members of the NYPD will be in attendance. According to a Community Access representative, approximately 100 mental health recipients are expected to be there. The event will begin at 2 p.m. at 2 Washington St. on the ninth floor.
The event is scheduled for the same day of a Bronx court appearance for an NYPD sergeant who has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a mentally-ill Bronx woman that occurred last October.
Alongside fellow officers, police sergeant Hugh Barry, an eight-year department veteran, responded to a late afternoon call regarding a woman, 66-year-old Deborah Danner, behaving erratically in her Bronx apartment. According to the police, Barry confronted Danner in the apartment as she held a pair of scissors and was able to persuade her to put them down. However, Danner then reportedly grabbed a baseball bat and swung at him. Barry shot her twice in the torso, and she was pronnounced dead sometime afterward at the Jacobi Medical Center.
It was later revealed that Danner had been previously diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Barry was arraigned back in May and has pleaded not guilty to charges that also include manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
“Officer training on interactions with persons with mental and emotional health concerns is integral to ensuring the respectful treatment of all civilians, and where necessary, de-escalating interactions with emotionally disturbed persons,” read an official CCRB statement about Friday’s presentation. “We cannot minimize the importance of ensuring that all communities can navigate CCRB’s complaint process in the event that they do experience police misconduct.”
According to a CCRB representative, these presentations usually focus on what the board does, one’s rights during police interactions such as stop and frisk, de-escalation, how to file complaints and how the board investigates those complaints.
However, Marquez Claxton, a retired NYPD detective, expressed skepticism that such presentations help, specifically when it comes to interactions with the police and mentally ill people.
“CCRB and NYPD should focus on a larger scale police reform agenda which should include a comprehensive training program for police officers which would assist them in identifying mental illness characteristics—which would provide additional safety to officers and civilians alike,” Claxton stated.
Claxton went on to say that the typical officer is not trained to respond differently to people with varying mental illnesses such as paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or manic depression. He also emphasized the importance of cooperation between law enforcement and mental health professionals to “create a training modality that focuses on proper police response, cursory recognition of illness and de-escalation.
“Without 21st century training, we will get 20th century results, which is too often death,” Claxton concluded.