The New York Police Department recently announced a significant change in how its rank and file deal with mentally-ill citizens. The NYPD has started an alert system focused on people who are mentally ill. According to a Newsday story:

“The New York Police Department has a new alert system that lets officers know if they are responding to locations where police have previously been sent to deal with the mentally ill, an initiative sparked by the fatal 2007 shooting of a man who confronted officers with a broken wine bottle.”

The 2007 incident should appear familiar to District residents. The police recently shot and killed a resident in crisis who allegedly was holding a knife. David Kerstetter was shot and killed on Nov. 6. The events that led up to his death remain under investigation. The D.C. Police Department has steadfastly insisted that it doesn’t need to change how it deals with mentally-ill residents.

The NYPD thought differently.

Newsday goes on to report:

“Two deadly confrontations in November 2007, including one involving the man with the bottle, plus a recent case in which a naked man fell to his death after he was jolted with a Taser, illustrate the challenges police face in such circumstances.

The NYPD is also working with mental health officials to identify locations, such as group homes, that house the mentally ill, according to Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD’s top spokesman.

‘You don’t want to leave it to an officer — hopefully the police officer on duty is one who happens to remember who lives there,’ Browne says. ‘It’s better if we know in advance about these locations.'”