APA Condemns Fatal Police Shooting in Philadelphia; Calls for Expansion of Crisis Intervention Capability

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 28, 2020 – The American Psychiatric Association (APA) today issued the following statement in response to the police shooting death this week of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black male who had mental illness and needed crisis intervention.

“We extend our condolences to the family of Walter Wallace Jr.,” said APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H. “His death is yet another tragic reminder that our nation’s police are ill-equipped to respond to people in crisis. The deadly response to people with mental illness happens far too often. We need to rapidly expand our crisis intervention capacities with teams led by mental health professionals to respond to people in a mental health crisis. These people need treatment, and as a society we must provide it to them.

“The APA condemns all acts of police brutality,” Geller said. “These acts have a harmful impact on the mental well-being of all Americans, especially the Black community, exacerbating stress, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. We call upon authorities throughout the United States to work with community leaders to stop tragedies like this one from happening again. We call upon state and federal legislators to increase funding for mental health services to do just that. Individuals with mental illness should not be dying in the streets of America from police gunfire.”

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,800 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.

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