Julia Eisen – WMAL News | September 21, 2023
The D.C. Police Union is fighting back and asking to get involved in a lawsuit the ACLU filed against the city, challenging the use of police to respond to mental health emergencies.
The ACLU claimed the city discriminates against people with mental health disabilities by sending cops instead of mental health experts to emergencies. In its lawsuit, the ACLU stated the city violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by treating people with mental health disabilities differently from those with physical health issues. Police officers are armed and trained to deal with criminals not those in crises, according to ACLU Attorney Michael Perloff.
“All of these things makes it more likely a police officer is going to escalate the situation of a mental health crisis rather than mediate it,” Perloff told WMAL News.
However, D.C. Police Union Chair Gregg Pemberton believes that officers are well equipped in these scenarios.
“We have incredible training on how to deal with this,” Pemberton told WMAL News. “When our officers respond they respond with compassion and responsibility and we try to find the best possible way to resolve those issues.”
WMAL News Correspondent Heather Curtis and Barbara Britt contributed to this report.
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