Update on Kofi Adu-Brempong case

via Independent Florida Alligator.  This is an update of the post about the University of Florida graduate student I wrote about last month.  Like many campuses, University of Florida strengthened its programs to help students in distress in the wake of the Virgina Tech shootings.  One of these measures included creating a Critical Response Team, or CRT, composed of safety and mental health professionals including professors, police officers, counselors and housing coordinators. The CRT  “determines if individuals pose threats to themselves or others and intervenes when necessary to maintain campus safety.”  According to the article:

“Kofi Adu-Brempong was afraid he was going to be kidnapped, taken to Africa and slain in a ritual killing.

In the days leading up to his shooting and arrest on March 2, the 35-year-old Ghanan graduate student sent e-mails to the faculty and staff in the UF geography department, accusing them of scheming to kill him, said Keith Yearwood, Adu-Brempong’s friend and fellow graduate student.”

These emails prompted the CRT into action:

“The day before Adu-Brempong was arrested and shot, a CRT counselor, along with a University Police Department officer and Adu-Brempong’s adviser, visited him at his apartment in Corry Village for two and a half hours, according to a police report.

The counselor, Laura Templeton, did not get a good chance to talk with Adu-Brempong and was unable to determine his overall mental state, Griffin said. No counselors came the night of the shooting because the situation had become too volatile and dangerous.

When Templeton met with Adu-Brempong the day before the incident, she determined Adu-Brempong did not meet the criteria for the Baker Act, according to the report.” [the Baker Act, aka the Florida Mental Health Act, allows for the involuntary commitment of someone found to be a harm to oneself and/or others]

“Had he been submitted under the Baker Act, Adu-Brempong would have been taken to one of two crisis units in Alachua County where he would have remained under observation for up to three days.”

Bruce Stevens, a professor in the UF College of Medicine and a member of the Florida chapter of NAMI , “is calling for an additional investigation to determine if the officers involved in the incident violated what they learned in the CIT course” that trains police how to handle emergencies involving persons with mental illness.

“’The implementation of what the officers learned in CIT training broke down,” Stevens said. “I don’t know what happened.’

Before the standoff and arrest, other breakdowns prevented Adu-Brempong from getting the mental care he needed, he said.”

Another article reports that “although several of the officers who were present in Adu-Brempong’s apartment at the time of the shooting had undergone CIT training, the shooter, Keith Smith had not been through the course, said Bruce Stevens, the co-president of Gainesville’s National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter.”  [Stevens has also spoken out on negative images of persons with mental illness in the media which prevents patients and families from seeking treatment and legislative funding for research and treatment. He also condemned air marshall’s shooting of a delusional passenger back in 2006 ].

So, what good is crisis response training if officers don’t take it?

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