CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A disability rights group wants trained paramedics, not police, to handle 911 calls involving people with autism or psychiatric disorders.
Stephon Watts was shot and killed by Calumet City police officers in 2012 while holding a knife.
The 15-year-old had autism – something the department already knew before officers responded to a call from his father after an argument, said Adam Ballard with Access Living.
The group wants medical personnel to respond to 911 calls, like the one the Watts Family made when Stephon was arguing with them.
“Give them the chance to kind of triage the situation and assess what the proper response is before calling in police if that is necessary,” Ballard said.
The group points to the shooting as a reason to mandate de-escalation training for all Illinois police departments and to have a medical response to such calls.
Ballard estimates only about one-third of Chicago police have gotten crisis intervention training, despite a push for the whole department to get it last year.
The Chicago Police Department tells WBBM, that all officers now complete a basic CIT course and roughly a third of the department receive advanced instruction to make them certified.
Ballard said the bill, which he hopes to be introduced in Springfield by the end of the month, has not yet identified who will bear the cost of training for paramedics or police.