Updated: March 10, 2021 05:14 PM
Created: March 10, 2021 03:56 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — After a man who police say was armed with a "large knife" was fatally shot by a Rochester Police Officer early Wednesday morning, many are asking if this could have been avoided if a mental health team was called.
"It's important that we look at resources that we have in the community around mental health and the needs of mental health especially of those in the shelter system,” Sara Taylor, Project Director of the BIPOC Parent Mental Health Movement said.
Taylor started her career in the homeless shelter as a mental health outreach worker and said while there are still more facts that need to come out, mental health crisis teams should have been called when police were.
“Understanding the populations that often go to facilities like that are typically those with chronic homelessness and often when we look at statistics and reports, many individuals that are chronically homeless have been impacted by mental health and mental health issues,” Taylor said.
Rochester Police said the man was using a knife to physically hurt himself while threatening to "kill" officers.
Taylor said she understands a weapon was involved, but these teams and police need to work together to understand a person’s state of mind.
“It's important to really look at this from a systems perspective: How can we improve the communication?” Taylor said. “So yes there was only 5 minutes, not to call another team, but when that call came and they were being deployed to that facility or near it automatically, you know. So these teams have to work with the police. It can’t be us or them."
Taylor said according to national statistics, 26% of the homeless population has some type of mental health condition. She hopes that a resolution comes soon, so calls like these could potentially be avoided.
“Those that are on the streets and those vulnerable populations in the heart of the city, we got to start prioritizing the needs with those with mental health conditions,” Taylor said.
The Open Door Mission released a statement saying: “Our hearts are heavy at the Open Door Mission regarding the incident that occurred early this morning involving the death of one of our guests. We are praying for our guest, their loved ones, and the Rochester Police Department officers involved in this incident. As this is an ongoing police investigation, we have no further comment at this time.”
When asked by reporters why the FIT team wasn't called Wednesday morning, Capt. Mark Mura said there wasn't enough time to call them in.
In her press conference, Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan said as of now in cases where a weapon is involved, under current guidelines, the Person In Crisis team will not be sent to calls.
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