On January 16, 2017, it was announced that Chicago police, 911 personnel, paramedics and mental health advisors will go through a training to become educated on how to determine and respond to situations regarding someone with a mental illness. This training will entail an eight-hour course created by the National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago. The articles I read also stated that the Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s goal is for at least 35 percent of police to have the Crisis Intervention Training certification (CIT), which consists of 40-hours worth of training.
I read five different articles and all of them said the exact same information about the subject. The first thing I wondered when I read the headline of the first article was ‘why?’ and out of those first five articles my question and curiosity was not answered, until I came upon an article from the Chicago Sun Times, the headline being, “City bolsters mental health training after scathing DOJ report.” The article states that the city of Chicago is doing this because of incidents that have happened regarding people with mental health issues; specifically, the shootings of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones. LeGrier called 911 for help but was hung up on by an operator and the operator never contacted any police. Later, police arrived at the scene and shot and killed LeGrier and they accidentally also killed Jones, LeGrier’s neighbor. After this, the mayor of Chicago ordered 50 percent more training within the police force and for at least one CIT certified officer to be on every shift.
But that was not the only incident that happened last year. A man suffered a mental breakdown and was tased 13 times. When the man’s parents asked for the police to take the man to the hospital a sergeant responded “We don’t do hospitals. We do jail.” Sadly, there are even more stories than these.
On the PR side of this, I believe that the police and firemen that were interviewed were very well media trained. There were no quotes included in any of the articles about the reasoning behind the training’s, not even in the Chicago Sun Times article. Instead of focusing on the reasoning behind the trainings the quotes within the articles, mostly from the police superintendent, seemed to be positive about how all cases are different and how they are going to train more people. The quotes were all generalized regarding the trainings and what they are learning within the training. The articles, besides the Chicago Sun Times, were short and non-descriptive. I believe that the police force is trying to stay out of the spotlight on the subject matter, so they will not bring up any of these crisis situations. But why didn’t any other reporters go into the story and explain why? That is their job. I guess I will never know, at least one reporter still followed the rules of good journalism.
ABC 7 Chicago:
Chicago Sun Times:
By Nicole Pilbeam, Account Executive, Olivet Nazarene University’s Communication Department