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Marsiglio Statement on FOP Response to the Mental Health Crisis in Indianapolis
Yesterday, Indiana Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 86 President Rick Snyder made a statement calling on the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to immediately halt assistance to those suffering from a mental health crisis.
And I agree. This reckoning has been far too long in coming.
An unarmed civilian response force has been one of my leading cornerstone ideas in this mayoral race, an idea mocked for being too ambitious by all other candidates. My plan has been clear from the beginning: a 200-strong force that focuses directly on the mental health crises of our city, one that focuses on being an agency that those suffering from addiction or homelessness may look to as a protector and solution provider, one that is going to find the help needed.
The idea of an unarmed civilian response team is not new for those who have known me and my work. It is an idea taken from places like Eugene, Oregon, where the CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) team has taken over all responses to calls involving mental health, homelessness, or substance abuse issues when the issue is personal and non-violent. 99% of all these runs are just this: PERSONAL AND NON-VIOLENT.
This idea is found through my interactions with IMPD officers and officers from other cities. They have told me that they do not want to be a part of the 'nanny state' and have told me that they should not be mental health clinicians. And again, I agree 100%.
A little on my background, I trained to be a mental health clinician. I have a Master of Science in Community Psychology from Martin University. In my mid-30s, I had seen too much personal destruction and the loss of several friends to addiction and mental health disorders; I had enough, and I decided to learn what I could ensure NO ONE ELSE SUFFERS THE SAME. Ultimately, I realized that our healthcare systems and government stood in the way more than anything else. So, I stand before you, asking you to help me.
Again, I am calling for a 200-strong force of clinician lead unarmed civilian respondents. Because of the pressures you and I have exerted on the city over the last several years, our city promised to do a study and bring on just two teams available only downtown between 9 and 5. These are the promises of a politician paralyzed by the fear that he would be held accountable for doing nothing and even more paralyzed by the fear that he might not get it right the first time.
It is this inaction that has left our city vulnerable.
Again, we need a 200-strong clinician-led unit available when and where these crises occur. This can be achievable with my background and partnerships with mental health organizations and educational facilities.
And I want to personally thank FOP President Rick Snyder for saying what his officers have been saying all along. Our police do their best when doing the work they were trained for. They were not trained for these situations, and while I believe they have the best of intentions in most cases, they are not the proper force to send in. We do not send meter readers in to put out fires, and we shouldn't send in the police to solve matters of personal mental illness and suffering.
I stand with the family of Herman Whitfield III in their suffering.
Clif Marsiglio for Mayor of Indianapolis
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FOP statement may be found here: