[Hpn] 12/13/00 Hearing on: The death of Robert Brown;Testimony by: Joseph A. Rogers

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Mon, 18 Jun 2001 16:19:03 -0400

Below is a forward of the testimony of Joseph Rogers on December 13, 2000 
given at a hearing of the Philadelphia City Council on the death of Robert 

Robert Brown was homeless and labeled with mental illness and was killed by 
Amtrak police officers on July 18, 2000.

Following that, FYI, are Web addresses for additional information on the 
subject of Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) which Joseph Rogers raised in his 
testimony and continues to speak to the press about as well.

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont


-------Forwarded hearing testimony-------

Hearing on: The death of Robert Brown

Testimony by: Joseph A. Rogers, President and CEO
Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania
1211 Chestnut Street, 11th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-751-1800, ext. 273; Fax: 215-636-6312
E-mail: jrogers@mhasp.org

Presented to: Philadelphia City Council
December 13, 2000, 12 p.m.

Councilwomen Blackwell and Tasco, on behalf of the Mental Health Association 
of Southeastern Pennsylvania, of which I am president and CEO, I want to 
thank you for holding this hearing to investigate the killing of Robert 
Brown by an Amtrak police officer in 30th Street Station last July.

This is not the first such death. For example, a similar tragedy occurred 
last January, when Harold Greenwald, who also had mental illness, was shot 
and killed in his own back yard by a Philadelphia police officer.

These occurrences are tragedies not only for the individuals whose lives are 
cut short and for their families, but for the police officers involved.

Since people may develop mental illness and go into crisis without much 
warning, there is no way to predict such events. Therefore, we need to be 
able to respond when people are in crisis and their actions are putting the 
public at risk. And, for the most part, that response has got to be by the 

In talking to experts around the country, we have found that an excellent 
model is the Crisis Intervention Team, or CIT, developed by the Memphis, 
Tennessee, Police Department. Because of its effectiveness, the Memphis 
model has been adopted by other cities, including Houston; Albuquerque, New 
Mexico; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle. It is clearly very replicable.

Before the CIT was established, the Memphis criminal justice and mental 
health systems were adversaries, and the police response often resulted in 
arrests and injuries. After the team went into effect, "the number of people 
the police were putting in jail decreased, and there has been a very, very 
significant decrease in officer injuries in regard to crisis calls," 
according to Lt. Sam Cochran, coordinator of the Memphis CIT. Memphis had 
not previously kept statistics on consumers getting hurt, but he believed 
that those numbers had decreased as well. The number of times the SWAT team 
has had to be called in has been reduced also, he said. In addition, most 
people with mental illness are taken to medical facilities without charges 
being filed. There has also been a great reduction in the amount of time the 
officers need to spend on such calls; therefore, officers return to service 
much more quickly.

In a 1999 report, Amnesty International confirmed that the Memphis model has 
been extremely successful in achieving "reductions in the use of deadly 
force and in injuries sustained by officers and civilians, as well as 
reductions in the use of restraints."

The Houston Police Department started out with a CIT pilot project, but 
announced last March that it would be expanded citywide because of its great 
success. According to Houston Police Chief C.O. Bradford, "The CIT has 
proven to be a valuable tool for patrol officers in the handling of 
individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. CIT is an example of 
policing for the 21st century and is spreading to law enforcement agencies 
throughout the country."

Since some people have questioned whether the CIT model would work in a big 
city, it is compelling that Houston is even larger than Philadelphia in 
population and geographic area, according to 1990 census figures.

The Memphis CIT currently consists of nearly a fifth of the Uniform Patrol 
Division, about 190 officers out of a division of approximately a thousand, 
and they handle approximately 7,000 calls involving people with mental 
disabilities annually. The CIT officers maintain city-wide coverage 24 hours 
a day, seven days a week. They are not limited to geographical boundaries 
regarding calls involving people with mental disabilities; and they also 
respond to other calls, which makes the program efficient within the overall 
context of police services.

When CIT officers, who wear an identifying pin, arrive on the scene, they 
are in charge, no matter what their rank. However, if the situation evolves 
into a barricade situation, a supervisor may decide to turn things over to 
hostage negotiators.

CIT officers, who volunteer and than are selected based on their judgment 
and maturity, attend an initial 40-hour training curriculum supervised by 
mental health providers, family advocates and mental health consumer groups 
at no expense to the city. The training enables officers to understand that 
mental illness is not a crime, but a disease. The officers also develop 
relevant skills, including how to de-escalate potentially volatile 

Although police departments without crisis response programs may also 
provide training related to mental illness issues, mere training is not 
enough, according to Lt. Cochran. He said that the cohesiveness developed by 
the team approach is vital to its success. The team members feel that they 
belong to an elite group, and their morale is correspondingly high.

As a result of the Memphis CIT, consumers have more choices and better care, 
and their attitudes toward the police have improved. Family members view 
police as advocates, and mental health professionals regard CIT as "their 
team," which they can rely on during critical moments.
According to the Memphis team, the program's overall success depends upon 
the capability of the mental health emergency system to respond to the needs 
of police. It is critical that officers be able to take a consumer to a 
place of safety that is not a standard lock-up or jail.

In addition, there must be an ongoing working relationship between police 
and the mental health community. In a report on a study comparing police 
response programs in Birmingham, Ala., Memphis, and Knoxville, Tenn., the 
researchers found that collaborations between the criminal justice system, 
the mental health system, and the advocacy community plus essential services 
reduced the inappropriate use of U.S. jails to house persons with acute 
symptoms of mental illness.

We at the Mental Health Association believe that all of these conditions 
could be met in Philadelphia, to the benefit of everyone: police, consumers, 
family members, and mental health professionals. We are urging the 
Philadelphia Police Department to adopt the Crisis Intervention Team model 
used in Houston and other cities, which helps police officers deal more 
safely, efficiently and effectively with people in psychiatric crises. We 
believe that, if Philadelphia had such a team, Robert Brown might very well 
be alive today; and that his death, along with similar tragic incidents that 
have involved the Philadelphia Police Department, proves that the police 
need a better system of dealing with people with psychiatric disabilities.

Abridged testimony of Joseph A. Rogers before City Council, December 13, 

---End of forwarded hearing testimony---

~~~Related Web sites -- for additional information on CIT's:

News in Perspective
June 14, 1998
Police mental health crisis
intervention training needed:


June 1998
Memphis Police
Crisis Intervention Team
Program Outline:


~~~Hosted at:

Depressive Manic-Depressive Association of Virginia (DMDAV):


Memphis Police:


-- Questions about the Crisis Intervention Team?
Contact Major Sam Cochran <samcit@memphispolice.org> for more Info.


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**


-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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