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On March twenty third, Joe Prude was worried about his brother, Daniel. Daniel had a history of mental illness, so Joe sent him to a psychiatric hospital for help. They released him hours later. And Joe says there wasn't a proper evaluation. Later that night, the two brothers were talking together in Joe's home.
We laugh when he reminiscing about old days. You know, Joe then left the room for a moment.
And when he returned, his brother Daniel was gone because of Daniel's mental health issues.
Joe called nine one one for a person like that that you love so much to just disappear into thin air. It's like, wow, how did I lose sight of him that quick when I had my whole life on him the whole time?
And in a process like me trying to figure out which way he went. You mean got on the phone with nine one one? No, get on the ground. Put your hands on your back behind your back. Don't move. Don't move. Chill out, man. Don't move. All right, man, just don't move.
The video was shot from a police body cam just after 3:00 a.m. as a light snow was falling in Rochester. Police approached Daniel Brud, who'd been running through the streets naked, incoherent, Daniel, Daniel.
Officers put a hood over its head. It's called a spit hood. Actually, it's supposed to protect the officers. And here's what followed. The three officers pinned him to the ground, pressing his face into the pavement for two minutes and Daniel Brud stopped breathing.
One week later, he was taken off life support at a local hospital.
This is what the outcome I called you for the lynch mob rule. I didn't call. Come help my brother die. I called him to come help me get my brother some help.
Consider this when you call 911, one who shows up and what are they trained to do?
A lot of police departments are asking those questions right now, but many of them are failing to come up with any new answers from NPR. I'm Audie Cornish. It's Tuesday, September 22nd. This message comes from NPR sponsor Twilio, a customer engagement platform trusted by millions of developers, enabling you to reinvent how you connect with your customers. Whatever your use case, Twilio has your back. It's time to build visit Twilio dotcom support for this NPR podcast and the following message come from Better Help.
Online counseling by licensed professional counselors specializing in isolation, depression, stress and anxiety visit better help. Dotcom's consider to learn more and get 10 percent off your first month. Activist Aaron Dorje tells his flock of progun followers on Facebook that he's tirelessly fighting for their Second Amendment rights, but if that's true, why do so many pro-gun Republicans hate him so much?
Arenda is a scam artist, a liar, and he is doing Iowan's no services, no favors.
Find out on the No Compromise podcast from NPR. It's consider this from NPR. If someone needs help in a mental health or substance abuse crisis, it's often police who respond first. Those situations make up an estimated 20 percent of police calls. Now, they do not all end up like Daniel Pruett's. In his case, a county medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, citing asphyxia due to physical restraint by police and intoxication from the drug PCP as the causes the officers involved were suspended and the police chief was fired.
We know what happened that night for Mr. Daniel, period. And we don't want to say any more names.
Pistil Schulich is a drug and alcohol counselor in Rochester. She and other mental health professionals in the city are trying to change how the police respond to crisis calls, handcuffs and hoods. No calm and cool talk. Yes, change your tone of voice, your body language, how you might have to get on the ground with them, give them eye contact. All of that is so important when deescalating such a scale of an event. He was not well.
A lot of police departments have tried to change the way they respond to crisis calls in recent years, Rochester's included. NPR's Eric Westervelt reports on why that police department's efforts may have fallen short.
Here's the thing, Rochester police on paper anyway, have a program that aims to de-escalate confrontations with someone in a mental health meltdown, someone just like Daniel Pruett. Rochester created one of New York state's first crisis intervention teams or cities in 2004. The crisis intervention team model came out of Memphis, Tennessee, in the late 1980s after police shot a mentally ill man in crisis who was also intoxicated. City program soon spread from Memphis to more than 2700 police departments across the country.
But some of those who've helped create the city model and do the trainings today say many police and sheriff's departments have deeply misunderstood it all.
We have to do is give them a little training and send them out there to handle crisis situations. That's the kind of mentality, the thought process that we have utilized for wait wait too long.
That's Ron Bruno, a veteran 25 year police officer who's now executive director of Crisis Intervention Team International. The group runs trainings and works to change the dynamic between police and people in a mental health crisis. Bruno says some departments have done it right, but others see city training as merely a check the box one week exercise. And he says the even bigger breakdown cities too often fail to create a program and integrate it into the wider behavioral mental health care system.
Bruno says crisis teams, when done right, aim to take officers out of responding to mental health calls unless absolutely necessary, because the person is actively violent.
We need to build community resources that can respond and take care of a crisis without having law enforcement involved. If we build the crisis response system that is non law enforcement, we will get more people connecting before it hits that level of danger.
But today, that's rarely happening to critics. The way these crisis teams have been built is yet another example of police tinkering with reform but failing to actually make substantive change. And studies show crisis teams are not very effective. An analysis last year in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law concluded that police crisis intervention teams have helped to reduce arrests of people with a mental illness. But it also concluded the programs too often fail in their fundamental goal to de-escalate and reduce violence.
Dr. Renee Binder at UC San Francisco co-authored the study.
It hasn't shown any consistent reduction in the risk of mortality or death during emergency police interactions, so it has not significantly decrease the number of individuals who are killed or injured.
Former officer Ron Bruno says the moment is now ripe for departments to examine the real goal of a crisis intervention team to turn the response over to a specially trained mobile unit. That team can be made up of mental health clinicians, medical professionals and maybe peer support specialists who've been through mental health or drug and alcohol challenges. People who can lend an empathetic ear, de-escalate and channel the person to services, not jail.
All I'm talking about is a non law enforcement crisis response team. Whatever disciplines you want to make up that team, it works.
Only a few cities, including a pioneering program in Eugene, Oregon, have created that kind of effective system.
Rochester police would not respond to detailed questions about its crisis intervention team or whether any of the officers in the case had any of that training last fall, five months before Prudes Death, the commander of Rochester City, Sergeant Steve Boyle, argued that the program was working well during an interview with local ABC affiliate HLM. But Sergeant Boyle also conceded that additional training wouldn't always be enough.
Some people are too ill to angry, too violent that no matter what training, some bad things are going to happen, some bad things are going to happen now.
Echoes eerily prescient in Rochester, where the police chief has been fired and where Daniel Pruett's family is still demanding answers, changes and justice.
NPR's Eric Westervelt. As protests against police brutality continue, some American attitudes about those protests are beginning to shift. A recent Pew survey found 55 percent of Americans now express some support for the Black Lives Matter movement. And that's down from 67 percent in June. Among white Americans, the number dropped from 60 percent to less than half. But within the racial justice movement, many black organizers say now is exactly the time for more support from white people, not less.
Here's NPR's Brian Mann. On a street in Rochester, New York, earlier this month, police in body armor pressed forward firing pepper balls of demonstrators. One of the protests, black leaders shouted orders directing white marchers to the front. You're getting to the perimeter. You're putting your body on the line right now. Thank you.
This dynamic is happening on streets across the U.S. Protests are diverse, but in many cities, the leadership is overwhelmingly black.
Benjamin O'Keefe is a black political organizer in Brooklyn, where protests have continued since early June. He says it's good far more white people are embracing the Black Lives Matter movement. But it's also meant a complicated tension with white allies, who he says often haven't questioned their own attitudes about race.
Are you really in this? Do you really understand the stakes? Are you here for an Instagram picture or are you here because you understand that when I walk outside every day, I have a much higher risk of not returning home because of the color of my skin?
Studies show black Americans are roughly three times more likely to be killed during an encounter with police compared with white people. Black adults are also five times more likely to say they've been unfairly stopped by police because of their race. This is an experience white demonstrators don't share. So across the country, many black organizers are addressing this tension, this different experience head on. The white folks, allies, accomplices.
I'm talking to young Christopher Coles, an activist in Rochester, talked to marchers through a bullhorn while a police drone hovered overhead.
This is not a video game for some of you. Are the come here. You come here because it's an elected. We come here because it's survival.
Cole's voice to concern you here a lot among black leaders that white allies will march and carry signs and then go back to their lives. Even if nothing changes to make black people safer.
You get to be an ally one day and just white the next. You get to live and lean on your privilege. But if you got privilege, start spending.
This tension isn't new. During the civil rights era, black leaders like Charlie Cobb were often leery of white supporters questioning their commitment and their willingness to be led.
And we were concerned they would assume responsibility for things. We wanted young black people to assume.
Cobb was an organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Mississippi during the 1960s.
He says it worried him when white college students began arriving on buses, such a large number of white coming out that they'd overwhelm the still fragile route of the grassroots movement we were trying to build.
But Cobb says black leaders then did find ways to lead white activists making big gains on civil rights. He thinks it's happening again now as white people take to the streets in much larger numbers.
Yeah, yeah, you're right. Back in Rochester, Kendall Devor is one of thousands of white people across the U.S. who marched this summer for the first time responding to the deaths of George Floyd, Daniel Prude and others. She says she's learned from black activists, found ways to fit in.
I just think being a white ally means listening a lot. And sometimes you're going to make mistakes, but you can't get sad and cry about it. You have to just register that there's work to be done.
This conversation about race is playing out mostly among young people, black and white, all under huge stress, exhausted and frightened. After weeks of confrontation with police, Salem Chamaco, an organizer in Portland, Oregon, says it's mostly working.
Whether or not it's always pretty, having these conversations is moving things forward. I think it's going well. The fact that we're still talking about it, the fact that these protests are going past 100 days shows that it's successful.
Some cities and state legislatures have responded to these protests with modest police reforms, but many black organizers say it's not enough. They see this moment as a major reckoning with systemic racism. One test of this movement is whether white supporters will stay with black activists as they demand more sweeping change. NPR's Brian Mann, NPR's Elizabeth Baker also contributed to that report. It's consider this from NPR. I'm Audie Cornish.