WASHINGTON, April 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Many in the law enforcement community feel ill equipped to handle suspects who are mentally ill. Yet, every day, police officers from across the nation are confronted by suspected offenders with mental health and emotional issues that require a complex approach instead of physical force alone. In Fairfax County, Virginia, a new program, 'Diversion First,' enables officers and deputies to assess a situation, de-escalate the crisis and resolve it on the spot. The program's goal is to change the way that law enforcement and the judicial system interact with people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Fairfax County Supervisor John Cook, Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler, and Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid will discuss this new program; the evolution of policing and the way law enforcement officer handle situations involving the mentally ill at a National Press Club Newsmaker news conference on Thurs., April 28, at 10 a.m., in the club's Zenger Room.
These changes to law enforcement gained traction in part due to a 2010 incident in Stafford County, Virginia where an autistic man was confronted by police, resulting in an assault on the arresting officer for which the man was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than half of all prison and jail inmates nationally have mental health challenges, making prisons and jails de facto mental health institutions. These inmates are often difficult to manage and more likely to commit suicide.
The National Press Club is located on the 13th Floor of the National Press Building, 529 14th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20045. As with all Newsmaker events, this news conference is open to credentialed media and Press Club members, free of charge. No advance registration is required.
CONTACT: David Hodes, Deputy Chair of the NPC Newsmaker Committee Newsmaker Event Host 202-596-5037 [email protected]