LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4)– The Loveland Police Department is trying to add more mental health professionals to the force. This comes after two high-profile incidents: the June 2020 arrest of Karen Garner, a 73-year-old woman with dementia and last week Alex Domina, a 19-year-old with mental issues was shot and critically injured by police.
The more recent incident was a case in which the 911 caller said involved a person with mental disabilities. No mental health professional was available though. The shift had just ended, but police say that person wouldn’t have gone in first.READ MORE: Colorado Polio Survivor Reflects On Life-Long Disease & COVID Vaccines Now
Lt. Jeff Pyle of the Loveland Police Department told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger, “It’s unsafe. If a person is armed with a knife we would want to clear that situation first before introducing somebody and put them in that danger.”
Alex Domina was reported to be trashing his grandmother’s house but told 911 he could be talked down. When police arrived he had a kitchen knife, what happened next is not clear. Police shot him three times in the abdomen.READ MORE: Denver Cops, Sheriff's Deputies Lagging on Vaccinations; 'There Is A Lot Of Pushback" Says Deputy Safety Director
“A lot of times our co-responders make decisions on their own to park around the corner to wait for the area to be clear and once it is clear to respond to the scene.”
The Loveland Police Department has had a contract with SummitStone Health Partners since 2016 to provide two mental health professionals who are embedded within the department.
The health agency’s website states, “The pair receives referrals from police officers out in the field and they also listen to radio traffic to determine calls that they should respond to.”
Pyle added, “If they feel they are going to be safe there is no need to take an officer, but if they are responding to a call for service that call is always made safe before they enter it.”MORE NEWS: Colorado AG Report Finds Pattern Of Racially Biased Policing In Aurora
Mari Newman, the attorney for Domina’s family, expressed doubt that it was unsafe for a mental health professional to enter the house based on what she has learned of the incident.