HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – During a city council meeting Thursday, city administrator John Hamilton made a presentation regarding the progress being made to dispatch mental health professionals for emergency calls for those in mental distress.
This happened to be a topic a number of people showed up to the meeting, eager to discuss. However, one Huntsville woman in attendance said she just wishes mental health was seen as a priority when her son needed help.
Adina Peyton lost her son Brad Pugh last November. He was shot 16 times by Huntsville police officers.
The responding officers located him on the roof of a Five Points restaurant, with a gun, and in mental distress.
Peyton claims she’s received very little insight into what led to police pulling the trigger, and she’s regularly shown up to council meetings since his death.
“‘Well he had a gun, he got what he got,’ that’s the mentality,” she said. “But something went wrong. Nobody’s addressed what went wrong. But we will address it!”
During the meeting, Hamilton announced the city was moving forward in developing a co-response program for situations similar to Pugh’s.
The three-tier program is geared toward ultimately making mental health professionals the sole responders for mental crisis calls.
“Essentially at level one your law enforcement agencies and specific members within the law enforcement agencies are getting training and certification as CIT officers as mental health officers,” Hamilton said. “They’re building the skill sets and receiving, in the mental health officer cases, the authorities necessary from the probate judge to be part of the solution in one of these mental health crisis situations.”
Hamilton said level one is ongoing, and the city is currently working on the second level of development. This phase would focus more on bringing in mental health providers to go to crisis scenes.
Peyton says the Crisis Intervention Team training program is a step in the right direction, but she remains skeptical.
“Tonight, it made my spirit want to believe again,” she said. “I’m just cautious about staying on it.”
Hamilton assured the council he’d have more details about the program’s standing by the May 13 city council meeting. He anticipates the city reaching the third and final level of the program by the end of 2021.