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NAMI Statement on Law Enforcement Pepper-Spraying a 9-yr-old Girl During a Crisis Call

Feb 01 2021

Arlington, Va. — The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) today released a statement from CEO Daniel H. Gillison, Jr, on the handcuffing and pepper-spraying of a nine-year-old girl in Rochester, New York, last Friday by local law enforcement professionals after a crisis call regarding “family trouble.”

“When a mental health crisis happens, it should get a mental health response. This young girl deserved help, not handcuffs and pepper spray.

NAMI believes that responses to situations like this family’s crisis should be met by well-trained mobile crisis teams that provide the de-escalation, help and support people need. Children—and everyone else in a mental health crisis—should not be traumatized by a law enforcement response.”

Last year, federal adoption of 9-8-8 as a three-digit number for mental health, substance use, and suicidal crises, which will be effective nationwide by July 2022, provides a path forward to accelerate better options for communities across the country. NAMI advocates for state and local crisis systems that combine well-trained call centers with mobile crisis teams and crisis stabilization programs.

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