Community-Police Crisis Team Grows In Shadow Of Paul Childs'
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 9, 2004
DENVER, COLORADO--Last year's shooting death of 15-year-old Paul Childs III by a Denver police officer has prompted a team of church, law enforcement and mental health leaders to organize two neighborhood centers where families can get help in dealing with crises.
The group has formed FACEIT, which stands for the Family, Advocacy, Crisis, Education and Intervention Team.
According to the Rocky Mountain News, the centers will be located in churches, and will offer families a range of services, including counseling, social services and referrals to organizations that help people with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses.
The centers will have on-site counselors, 24-hour access to clergy, and staff trained to help de-escalate problems before they become unmanageable.
The project, which so far has $300,000 in community donations, pledges and grants, has been under development for nearly a year.
Childs, who had mental retardation and epilepsy, was shot to death in his home on July 5, 2003.
The teen had been recovering from a seizure when he started walking through the house clutching a kitchen knife to his chest. His sister called 9-1-1 in the hopes that police would be able to help calm him down, as they had done previously.
The Rocky Mountain News article noted that Childs' sister and mother had called the police for assistance 50 times in the previous three years.
Denver Police Officer James Turney, who had driven Childs home a few months earlier, arrived on the scene, along with two other officers that were armed with non-lethal Tasers. When Childs failed to follow Turney's instructions to drop the knife, the officer shot him four times, killing him in a doorway.
An investigation later cleared Turney of any criminal wrongdoing in the case. However, Manager of Safety Al LaCabe determined that Turney had violated the department's "use of force" policy by unnecessarily forcing a confrontation with Childs. Turney was given a 10-month suspension without pay. When he returns to duty, he will not be allowed to work on the streets.
The City of Denver paid the Childs' family $1.325 million, and promised to reform the police department's use-of-force policy, to keep the family from filing a lawsuit.
Mayor John Hickenlooper set up a panel to come up with recommendations for improving the city's handling of similar cases. As a result, at least one-half of Denver Police officers are to receive training in crisis intervention techniques over the next two years, a hundred more Tasers will be issued to patrol officers, and a mental health worker will be hired to train officers how to deal with people who have developmental disabilities and mental illnesses in crisis situations.
FACEIT is one part of the response by the police department and the community to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.
"Centers to help families in crisis" (Rocky Mountain News)
"The Death of Paul Childs III" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)