Institute Better Training to Stop Unnecessary Police Shootings of Mentally Ill People

Target: The United States Police Force

Goal: Institute better police training in dealing with mentally ill individuals.

A recent investigation by the Portland Press Herald in Maine indicates that approximately half of those shot and killed by police since 2000 were mentally ill. The report explains that in many cases the police knew the subjects had a mental illness, yet employed the use of deadly force anyway and succeeded in killing their targets 58 percent of the time. Better police training in crisis intervention is needed to prevent the unnecessary deaths and injuries of those with mental illness.

The report estimates that 375 of the 500 people who are shot by police every year in the United States have a history of mental illness. This past year alone has offered numerous examples of unnecessary use of force by police: in Seattle, WA an officer shot and killed an alcoholic, mentally ill man as he was carving a piece of wood with a pocket knife; in Portland, OR a man who was threatening suicide was fatally shot in the back by police; in Houston, TX a double-amputee, wheelchair-bound man with mental health issues was shot dead by police after waving a pen in the air.

These examples are among the many cases that clearly indicate a need for better police training in order to prevent wrongful deaths and injuries of mentally ill individuals. If officers are given the knowledge to recognize when an individual has a mental illness and are provided with the tools to interact with such an individual, the need to resort to deadly force is decreased. Using one’s gun should be an officer’s last resort, not the first. Sign the petition below to urge the police to institute better training for officers in order to stop the unnecessary shootings of mentally ill individuals.


Dear United States Police Force,

The results of the investigation on police shootings of mentally ill individuals conducted by the Portland Press Herald in Maine calls for the institution of better training for officers in recognizing and interacting with mentally ill individuals. The report indicates that approximately half of those shot and killed by police since 2000 were mentally ill. In many of these cases the officer(s) knew that the subjects suffered from mental illness, but resorted to using their guns anyway.

Had these officers been better trained in such crisis intervention, many of these mentally ill individuals could still be alive and have received proper care for their conditions. Not only would a better training program protect mentally ill citizens from unnecessary use of deadly force, but it could also give officers the tools to avoid potentially dangerous situations for all involved. I am urging the police to live up to their promise to “serve and protect” by learning how to take correct measures in dealing with individuals suffering from mental illness.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Federico Stevanin via

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45 Signatures

  • Ana Maria Mainhardt Carpes
  • Ellen McCann
  • Darlene Roepke
  • Lynn Juozilaitis
  • Ann Blank
  • tam O
  • Mary-Carol Gales
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