Community leaders call on MPD to step up mental health training in light of recent shooting

A large community gathered Sunday in the Folwell neighborhood of Minneapolis to remember a man shot and killed by police more than a week ago.

Family and friends say 36-year-old Travis Jordan was having a mental health crisis when he was killed. Now, they're demanding transparency into how this happened.

The officer-involved shooting was just one of many situations where police are called to confront a suicidal individual. 

Over the past year, there have been several high profile incidents where a suicidal person has been killed by officers. But, one former law enforcement expert says Minnesota actually ranks in the top 10 among states that requires extensive training in mental health for police.

Family, friends, neighbors and community activists stood together at the spot where Jordan was killed by two Minneapolis police officers.

"We have no good mechanisms for addressing mental health crises in this community or in this country," activist Michelle Gross said.

A 911 transcript revealed Jordan's girlfriend called police for a welfare check and followed up with police telling them she believed he had a weapon. Later, a large kitchen knife was recovered at the scene.

“Someone can cover 21 feet with that knife and stab you before you ever get your gun out of your holster,” said Michael Wold, a former BCA agent.

With 30 years of law enforcement experience behind him, Michael Wold said that Minnesota has recently been leading the way in crisis intervention training for officers. The training includes 40 hours of mental health training and other certificate requirements. Currently, about 80 percent of the Minneapolis police force is CIT-trained.

“Here, there is a battery of tests that you go through to become a police officer. The fact that you have to go to this continued education is a great means to get to where everybody feels pretty comfortable, including citizens,” he said.

Wold says departments can always do more--Minneapolis police are working on a co-responder program that is a secondary squad who are able to provide on-scene assessments to the patient if the patient is emotionally able to do it.

“I like the fact that we need to talk and de-escalate, but when there are starting to be weapons or someone else is going to come into harm’s way, I think we all have to take a serious look at this and say there is really no other option,” he said.

While Minneapolis police handle thousands of suicidal calls year to year, other agencies also struggle with the appropriate response to these incidents.

Over the summer, a Minnetonka high school student was shot and killed by two Carver County sheriff’s deputies after his mother called police reporting he was suicidal and threatening her. Then, in August, a St. Paul man refused to drop a gun after his roommate called police because of suicidal comments.

“It’s split-second decisions, and if you don’t do it right, certainly you are in likelihood of being dead—other citizens are—it really is split-second and a ton of pressure on these officers,” Wold said.