B024 Police Killings and Mental Illness

Original version

Resolved, the House of __________ concurring, That the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, mindful of a growing body of statistics regarding the response of the police to situations involving person suffering from mental illness, and

Further mindful of the Gospel imperative that Christ’s body the Church seek and serve him in the care and protection of those most vulnerable persons in our midst (Mt.25:35-40),

  1. Denounces police killings of unarmed people in mental health crisis and distress;
  2. Urges elected officials and other relevant policymakers to implement reforms which mandate that police departments provide compulsory mental health crisis intervention and de-escalation training for all officers who may be called to respond to such situations; and
  3. Urges its members at the local, diocesan, and church-wide levels, to advocate for these policies in their various capacities.


Approximately one-quarter of people shot by the police in the U.S. in 2017 were reportedly suffering from situations of mental illness and distress . These statistics run in continuity with studies from the previous three decades, which indicate that perhaps even “half of the people shot and killed by police each year in this country have mental health problems” .

The reality of this excessive use of force is that lives are destroyed, families and communities devastated. Situations which call for crisis intervention instead turn to episodes of violence These episodes are preventable, however, if systemic changes are made in how police officers understand their role as they respond to people in mental illness.


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