By Terrell Jermaine Starr
Times Square is a national landmark that welcomes millions of tourists each year but on Sept. 14, 2013, visitors witnessed a major flaw in how the New York Police Department deals with the mentally ill.
Glenn Broadnax, 35, was walking in and out of traffic when he was confronted by police officers. They would eventually open fire on him, miss him, but hit two women bystanders, who survived. Video of the shooting went viral and critiques over how poorly the officers at the scene dealt with the situation followed.
“Cops don’t know enough about the mentally ill,” Eugene O’Donnell, a former NYPD cop and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in Manhattan, told CBS News’ Crimesider at the time.
Broadnax, who was unarmed, was charged with wounding the bystanders who were shot by police. It was a perverse form of justice, but you could count Broadnax lucky in one way. He narrowly escaped being one of the 56 mentally-ill New Yorkers who were fatally shot by the NYPD that year. It was a significant drop from 83 people in 2012, but a Brooklyn lawmaker says that’s still not enough.
“We would like to see that number at 0,” State Senator Kevin Parker of Brooklyn, told AlterNet.
Parker is hoping a bill that he introduced in 2013 requiring all police officers in New York state to undergo Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), an intensive week-long course that trains officers on how to deal with mentally-ill people in distress, will be signed into law by the end of this year. Currently, there is no centralized way in which the NYPD or other law enforcement agencies in the state of New York train its officers on how to deal with mentally-ill people. Only three departments in the state (Westchester, Nassau and Monroe counties) offer CIT training to their officers.