By The Whole Person Revolution | Listen | 59m
Published in November of 2020

SUMMARY: For over a decade police officers Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro have been part of the San Antonio Police Department’s Mental Health Unit. In thousands of interactions with people in various states of mental health crisis they have used force only one time.

Stevens and Smarro say that part of the mental health care mess has been caused by the deinstitutionalization of mental health facilities across the country in addition to the lack of funding for community support centers. As a result, the police have become the de facto first responders to mental health issues despite not having any training on dealing with mental health issues. Due to this fact the duo believe that the way the academy trains police officers, the way police departments recruit, how the police present themselves to the community, and the mental health of police officers all need to be reformed.

Stevens and Smarro’s approach is a refreshing change from pointing out problems and theorizing what might work to actually making change in their communities. Their approach is not easy, or perfect, but it is better than the setup most city police forces use to handle people with mental health issues.

When you are done listening to the podcast, watch Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops to see them in action.

KEY QUOTE: “We know that most people don’t think or believe that police officers should be dealing with people who are suffering from mental-health crises. And while at face value I believe that myself—just because you’re someone living with a mental illness doesn’t mean you should have to interact with law enforcement—we also know that there’s a huge lack of community-support services that are able or willing to deal with this situation we’re facing. And so for us as police officers, to get training, to realize that we are the de facto first responders, when it comes to all of these societal issues, whether it’s mental health or homelessness or whatever it is, we have to be better equipped.”

DID YOU KNOW?: Sunday to Saturday has curated topical playlists on Listen Notes where you can subscribe and listen to them in your favorite podcast player.



More curated podcasts on policing:

PODCAST: Policing with Chief Allen Banks

In a sincere, hopeful conversation Round Rock (Texas) police chief Allen Banks talks about his implementation of community policing in Round Rock, why the police shouldn’t be the first responders for everything, policing training, diversity in police hiring, how to create equitable and safe communities and much more. If you want to know how a community is changing policing right now, then this is the podcast for you.

Read more

PODCAST: Where the Gospel Meets Law Enforcement & Ethnicity

Co-hosts Jesse Eubanks and Rachel Szabo weave commentary from protestors and police while exploring the history of law and order and the evangelical community. For Christians, it is not either being for protestors or for police, but a third way that is having compassion for the police while seeking justice.

Read more

PODCAST: Do White Evangelicals Love Police More Than Their Neighbors?

Aaron L. Griffith, assistant professor of history at Sattler College in Boston, discusses the history of policing and the intertwining of evangelical’s support of law and order presidential candidates. Griffith also dives into what we can do to change by examining our motives, terms to be wary of and that we have to admit that we expect too much of the police which is a failure of how we have setup our society.

Read more

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: