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Miami Dade Final Report Mental Illness and Justice System 2004

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State Attorney
Chief Assistant State Attorney



January 11, 2005

Circuit Judge Presiding

Officers and Members of the Grand Jury
Vice Foreperson
















Clerk of the Circuit Court
Administrative Assistant


1 - 46



A. MENTAL INSTITUTIONS – An Historical Perspective ………………………














B. TASERS ……………………………………………………………………………


CONCLUSION ………………………………………………………………………..


RECOMMENDATION ……………………………………………………….…………….


APPENDIX A: Demographic Information on Mentally Ill Subjects Arrested
And Booked in the Miami-Dade County Jail in 2002 .……….


APPENDIX B: Actual Police Encounters With Violent Subjects ………………….


APPENDIX C: Aventura Police Department Use of Force Statistics ………………





47 - 50



As you will soon appreciate from this report, mental illness is a major problem in
our community, our state and this nation. For those who suffer from it, it is a chronic
problem that very often leads to unemployment, strained family relationships,
homelessness, substance abuse and criminal activity. Mental illness does not respect any
particular race, gender, age, nationality or socioeconomic level.1 It still carries a stigma
and, left untreated, it creates problems for both the individual and the community.
We write and issue this report in hopes that we can help educate the general
public and lawmakers about the nature of the problem, the impact it is having on all of
our lives and how we can improve the plight of those who suffer from this disease.
Although we recognize that problems and issues surrounding mental illness are
multifaceted, we will only focus on two aspects herein – 1) Adults with mental illness
who are recycled through our criminal justice system; and 2) Police encounters with
persons suffering from mental illness.

A. MENTAL INSTITUTIONS – An Historical Perspective
For years, concerned individuals sought to improve the plight of the hundreds of
thousands of mentally ill patients who were being detained in mental hospitals across our
country. Many of the patients were being held because they posed significant danger to
themselves or others. Treatment at that time was described by one of our witnesses as
barbaric and archaic. It included insulin-induced comas, cold baths with ice and shock

However, during the late 1950’s and early 60’s, the entire mental health

landscape changed with the discovery and development of anti-psychotic medications.
Treatment with these medications significantly reduced the danger posed by these
patients and would allow them to lead relatively normal lives.

See Appendix A


As a result of years of complaints (and abuse), the advent of these new
medications and rulings by the United States Supreme Court, a decision was made to
close many of the state mental hospitals, de-institutionalize (release) the patients and
offer treatment at community-based facilities. The hope was to place the mentally ill in
our communities and provide support and treatment that should permit them to lead
productive lives.

The majority of patients were released.

However, there were

insufficient local programs available to treat them. As a result, persons who had been
receiving medication and were then stable were released into the community with no
treatment and no means to ensure that they were taking their medications. The failure to
provide treatment and the absence of sufficient treatment facilities was going to affect our
criminal justice system in ways that no one could yet imagine.
One can appreciate the significance of this failure when we note that there were
560,000 patients in mental hospitals in 1955. Over the next four decades, while asylum
populations nationwide decreased by 90 percent, the prison population grew by 400
percent. There are presently less than 40,000 patients in mental hospitals in the United

Now, the majority of persons suffering from mental illness are in our jails,

prisons and on our streets. A review of a few statistics puts the issue in focus.
A Good Idea Gone Bad
Nationally, more than 500,000 persons with mental illness are on probation. The
United States ranks number one in the world in the number of persons suffering from
mental illness. The United States also ranks number one with the largest number of
untreated cases of mental illness. According to a recent report, there are three times as
many men and women with mental illnesses in U.S. prisons as in state psychiatric


Further, nearly half the inmates with a mental illness in state or federal

custody in the United States are incarcerated for committing a nonviolent crime.3
On a local level, the state of Florida has the highest rate of mental illness in the
nation. Further, due to our nice weather, poverty and a significant immigrant population,
South Florida has the highest percentage of mentally ill persons in its general population.


The Sheriff’s Star, September / October 2004.
Paula M. Ditton, Mental Health Treatment of Inmates and Probationers


Based on the national average, 3% of the total population suffers from some form of
mental illness. For Florida, it is 9%, or three times the national average. Further, it is
estimated that from one-half to two-thirds of our homeless population suffers from
mental illness. Drug problems or substance abuse disorders are also prevalent for 70 – 80
% of persons who suffer from mental illness.
With the release of patients from our state mental hospitals, what had been a state
problem became a local issue. Because most of the mentally ill were locked up in
asylums, the state was responsible for the operation of those state hospitals, doctors,
medications, housing, treatment and inherent costs. Once all were released to local
communities, the costs of dealing with the mentally ill has been primarily borne by our
local county governments in the form of paying to house and treat thousands upon
thousands of criminal defendants in our jails. It has been estimated that Florida’s local
jails have become the largest public psychiatric hospitals, housing five times more
people with mental illnesses than the state’s psychiatric institutions.
In fact, one of the clearest indicators of the crisis that exists in our community is
the present situation at the Pre-trial Detention Center, commonly referred to as the Dade
County Jail. The jail has nine (9) floors. In 1985, inmates with psychiatric problems
occupied 2 out of 3 wings on one floor in the jail. Each inmate had his own bed and there
were approximately eighty (80) such inmates. Today, there are more than eight hundred
to twelve hundred such inmates in the jail at any given time who are experiencing some
form of mental illness. Some of their conditions are so severe, that they cannot be housed
in the general population. Instead, these “chronic” cases now occupy 3 wings on three
floors! Included in the group of inmates are defendants whose mental illness is so
“acute” they are placed in safety cells and checked every fifteen minutes to prevent
suicides or serious bodily injury.
In addition to the inmates on these three floors, there are hundreds of other
inmates on any given day whose conditions are stable enough (or whose conditions were
stabilized after being incarcerated) that they can be (and are) housed among the inmates
in general population. Most of those inmates in the general population take medication

daily to keep them from declining. All of the inmates on the three psychiatric floors
receive daily medication.

Some of the medications are administered in emergency

situations against the will of the inmates. Daily visits are made by doctors and nurses
while these defendants are locked up in the jail.

In essence, the Department of

Corrections is trying to run a psychiatric hospital in a facility that was designed to house
persons who have engaged in criminal behavior. The costs for running this “hospital
inside a jail” are staggering.
Many of the costs and expenses incurred in providing the limited medical care,
counseling and medication are taken out of the budget of Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Psychotropic medication alone is in excess of a million dollars per year. Moreover, many
of the inmates receiving medications are “treated” at the jail several times a year.4 To
understand the significance of the costs incurred, we must look at some other numbers.
We recognize that this is not only a problem in our county or state. The Monroe
County, New York Jail spends approximately $315,000 per year in overtime for deputies
who are conducting twenty-four hour suicide watch.5 The Pennsylvania Department of
Corrections estimates that it costs $80 per day to incarcerate an average inmate and $140
per day to incarcerate an inmate with a serious mental illness.6
Locally, it costs Broward County taxpayers $78 per day to house an inmate at the
Broward County Jail. It costs Broward County taxpayers $125 per day to house an
inmate with a mental illness. In Miami-Dade County, the numbers are not any better.
Miami-Dade County taxpayers spend $ 18 per day to house general population inmates
at its jail. The cost for housing inmates with mental illness is $125. Statistics also
indicate that the length of incarceration at the jail for a person suffering from mental
illness is eight times longer than an inmate in general population. That is only the
beginning of the expenses.
An inmate arrested for a felony level charge who is determined to be suffering
from a severe mental illness will, in all probability, be given a psychiatric evaluation

See pages11 - 13 infra, IV. D. The Criminalization of Mental Illness.
Unpublished statistic courtesy of Captain John Caceci, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Monroe County,
New York.
Unpublished statistic courtesy of John Shaffer, Ph.D., Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.


ordered by the court. This evaluation is conducted by “outside” doctors who have
agreed to “only” charge the county $150 per evaluation. The purpose of the evaluation is
to determine whether the defendant is competent to understand the charges filed against
him7 and is able to assist his attorney in defending his case. Depending on the findings in
the psychiatric evaluation report, the defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor may each
also want the defendant evaluated by “outside” psychiatrists, who will also charge $150
per evaluation. It takes several weeks for this process to play out. Meanwhile, the
defendant resides at the jail at a cost of $ 125 per day.
If, after review of the three reports, the parties stipulate or the court finds that the
defendant is incompetent to stand trial, the defendant will be sent to one of the state’s
forensic hospitals for treatment. The defendant will probably spend at least a month or
two at the state forensic hospital, where he will be treated (given medication) to stabilize
his condition.8 He is evaluated by in-house psychiatrists at the state hospital and once
they determine that he is competent to stand trial, he is shipped back to the Dade County
Upon his return to the jail (at $125 per day), another psychiatric evaluation is
ordered (another $150) to confirm that the defendant is competent to stand trial. Once
that evaluation is complete and the defendant is determined to be competent, his case is
set for trial or the case is otherwise resolved (possibly through a plea bargain). If the case
is resolved through a plea, it may very well include a period of probation and will also
include special conditions for that probation. The defendant will usually be required to
get outpatient mental health treatment and counseling during the course of his probation.
If his condition is severe, he may be required to participate in a community residential
mental health facility, to be followed by outpatient treatment. Failure to attend the
programs constitutes a violation of his probation and will cause his case to be sent back to


For ease of reading, we have decided not to add “or her” to our references to “him” or “his”. All such
references are intended by use to be gender-neutral and all references to the male pronoun are intended to
also relate to females. This applies to subjects, inmates, judges and police officers.
The costs for committing one person to a Florida State Forensic hospital is $112,000 per year.


If the defendant is arrested again, either for violating his probation and/or
committing a new offense, this entire process and the resultant costs may begin anew.
The aforementioned scenario describes the typical handling of a mentally ill defendant
charged with a felony in Miami-Dade County. There are also significant jail costs
associated with mentally ill defendants charged with misdemeanors offenses. However,
the law provides different results if the highest charged offense is only a misdemeanor.
The law is designed to try to prevent sending individuals to forensic hospitals if
they have only committed minor offenses.

Therefore, even if the judge makes a

determination that a defendant standing before him is mentally ill, and is incompetent to
stand trial, the judge cannot commit the defendant to a forensic hospital. Moreover, if the
defendant does not pose a danger to himself or others at the time he appears before the
judge (probably because he was treated and stabilized while locked up in the jail), he is
released from custody back onto the streets.

In other words, the court cannot

involuntarily hospitalize a misdemeanant offender who is incompetent to stand trial.
Without any safety net such as aftercare or a case manager to help him obtain benefits
and services, it will only be a matter of time before police will arrest the individual again
for some other minor offense and the cash register for these costs will start ringing again.
Many of these misdemeanant offenders will be arrested and/or Baker Acted several times
a year. Every return visit usually requires stabilization.
Social Services in the Jail
In addition to providing medical care, the Department of Corrections Health
Services unit also provides social services for inmates with mental illnesses. It is a
daunting task.

There are eleven social workers spread out over five (5) detention

facilities in Miami-Dade County; Women’s Detention Center (1 social worker); MetroWest (1 social worker); Pre-Trial Detention Center Jail (7 social workers); and Turner
Guilford Knight (TGK) and the Stockade (2 social workers).
The social workers have individualized contact with the mentally ill inmates,
participate in group therapy sessions, assist the psychiatrists in encouraging inmates to
take their medication and conduct follow-up to help ensure that they are doing so. In
addition, they assist in conducting assessments and evaluations of the inmates as well as


collaborate with the courts, the Department of Corrections and community agencies to
find services for the inmates after their release. Herein lies a major part of this problem.
A mentally ill inmate who ends up in custody for acting out as a result of failing
to take his medication may very well have his condition stabilized in jail. While in the
jail, his condition may improve such that he can move from a psychiatric wing to a
general population floor.

The assessments, evaluations, counseling sessions and

medications are designed to (and may) get him in a condition where he is able to function
in a fairly normal fashion.
Once he is released, he will be transitioning back to his normal life style. He will
carry with him his “poor insight,” a condition that renders seriously mentally ill people
incapable of understanding that they are sick, have symptoms and would benefit from
treatment.9 For a successful transition, a continuum of care needs to be provided. In
other words, to remain stable, he will need to continue with the same type of treatment,
counseling and medication he was receiving while in custody. The problem here is there
are far too few facilities available to provide such services. Without such services, it will
only be a matter of time before the inmate is re-arrested, returned to the jail and recycled
through the system.
How Do We Address the Problem?
Community mental health centers (“CMHC’s”) would be the ideal place for
former inmates to receive such service. Such centers would also be the ideal location for
providing services to others in our community who suffer from mental illness. CMHCs
offer residential programs, day treatment and some even provide assistance in finding
employment for their clients.
However, as reported by the Chief Clinical Social Worker at the jail,
approximately 90% of the persons identified in the jail who have mental health problems
also suffer from alcohol or other substance abuse. This dual diagnosis / dual treatment


This condition is well known to family members and others on a regional basis. The condition is very
aptly conveyed in the title of a very popular book circulating in the mental health community: I Am Not
Sick, I Don’t Need Help! By Xavier Amador.


reality exacerbates the transition problem for many of the former inmates. They have
two major (treatable) conditions and not enough resources to draw on to deal with either.
The recycling of mentally ill inmates through the jails is also fairly predictable
due to the absence of case managers. Having case managers available would allow for
follow-up care.

Case managers could assist the mentally ill patient in keeping

appointments, obtaining medication, benefits and services and ensuring that he is taking
his medication. The failure to provide case managers guarantees that huge sums of
money spent in the jail are effectively being wasted.
When the mentally ill arrive in the jail, those in the criminal justice system spend
time, resources and money for assessments, evaluations, medications, counseling and
treatment. For many inmates, this quality of care restores their mental stability. They are
then released back into the community with no case managers, no follow-up treatment
and eventually their mental instability returns. For many, the instability is simply caused
by a lack of available medication or the failure to take their medication. Eventually, they
will do something that will bring them to the attention of the police and they will be
arrested again. The cycle begins anew.
Alternatively, the failure to provide follow-up care and treatment may cause such
a decompensation in their mental stability that the person must now be Baker Acted.10
After having their conditions stabilized while in custody, they have deteriorated so badly
on the streets that they pose dangerous risks to themselves or others. The costs for the
Baker Acts is also a huge expense.
After being armed with some of this information, we decided that we would take
a tour of the jail.
Mission Statement: We, the Miami-Dade County Corrections and
Rehabilitation Department serve our community by providing safe, secure


Florida’s Mental Health Act is set forth in Chapter 394, Florida Statutes. Section 394.467 describes the
criteria and procedures for involuntary placement of persons suffering from mental illness. It is commonly
referred to as the Baker Act. Under the Baker Act, persons who are mentally ill and determined to be a
danger to themselves or others may be involuntarily hospitalized and treated.


and humane detention of individuals in our custody while preparing them
for a successful return to the community.
Nothing could have adequately prepared us for the sights and sounds we
witnessed on our tour. We viewed the “acute” psych wing and observed inmates who
were obviously suffering from some form of mental distress. The yelling from some of
the inmates confirmed the existence of paranoia, hallucinations and delusions. Their
stares were gripping.
The setting and the cells were cold and stark. Plexiglas covered the doors to
allow correctional officers full, direct and unobstructed views into the cells at all times.
The persons detained in these cells were at risk for suicide and were under almost
constant watch with bed checks every fifteen minutes. The lights are on in the cells
twenty-four hours a day and many of us found the area to be extremely cold. The beds
are made of metal. To help prevent suicides, the cells are devoid of any items that could
assist in that effort. Thus, no sheets, mattresses, toiletries or clothing is allowed. Neither
are books, pens, papers or recreational activities. There is absolutely nothing for these
inmates to do as they are confined to their cells. The inmates are offered Ferguson
garments11, if they choose to wear them. Notwithstanding all of these precautions, the
seriously disturbed inmates still find ways to harm themselves. These include diving off
the bed onto the concrete floor and banging one’s head against the wall.
Witnesses informed us that as bad as the physical structure looks, it is an
improvement over what the wing looked like before the $100,000 worth of renovations
and improvements in 1998 and 2002. The most recent changes included retiling the floor
and construction of an island in the center of the floor. The island serves as a nurses’
station and guard post for the correctional officers working on the psych wing. An office
for the psychiatrists was also included in the latest build out.
Of all the sights from our tour, the most haunting image probably was an
unoccupied cell, which did not have a regular metal bed. Instead, it contained a four-


Paper garments were used before, however, some inmates tried to eat the paper to harm themselves. The
Ferguson garment is used around the country. It is a one-piece “covering” that cannot be torn or shredded
by hand. It provides a modicum of respect for the inmates who are unfortunate enough to be held on that


point restraint bed, which sat in the middle of the floor. The presence of that bed in the
unit served as a vivid reminder that the correctional staff and medical personnel deal with
severely ill persons who, at times, can be very dangerous. As described to us, the
restraint device is used as a last resort. When medication, counseling and two-point
restraint in the cells is insufficient, inmates may be placed in the four-point restraint bed
to keep them from injuring themselves or others. For many of us, scenes from the movie,
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, came rushing back.
The obvious threat of danger posed by these inmates results in more restrictions
of their freedom of movement inside the jail and less socialization and recreation than
that permitted for inmates in general population. For instance, on other floors, we
observed that inmates are allowed to interact with each other and even share televisions
and telephones in some of the common areas of their floors. Moreover, they are allowed
to go down to the exercise yard (which is a concrete enclosed and concrete floor area)
where they can at least get some fresh air and sunshine. Neither of these “perks” is
available for the inmates in the acute psych wing. For obvious reasons, televisions are
not included in their cells. Similarly, because of the danger they pose to themselves and
others, they are not allowed to mingle or interact with other inmates. This safety risk also
makes it impossible for correctional officers to take them to the exercise yard. These
inmates are allowed out of their cells for fifteen (15) minutes every day and given the
“opportunity” to shower. If they choose to do so, this activity is also monitored.
We found the setting and conditions less than ideal for treating persons suffering
from mental illness. In fact, one witness opined that placing an individual with even
marginal psychological issues in this environment is probably going to make the inmate’s
condition worse. Notwithstanding the bleak environment, we were also reminded that the
primary function of the jail is to provide a secure facility to detain persons accused of
committing crimes. The jail’s primary goal of maintaining custody, providing security
and preventing escape of inmates is at odds with providing medical care to very sick
people. In fact, the persons who are providing security for the mentally ill are not given
any training for dealing with this segment of the inmate population.


The mental health wings are staffed by a number of correctional officers who have
volunteered to work on those floors. Over time, they have become adept at dealing with
the inmates and the inmates develop relationships with the officers. On many occasions,
a correctional officer who has established a relationship with an inmate who has been in
and out of the system may prove more effective than the doctors, nurses and social
workers in getting him to take his medications or follow other instructions.
Unfortunately, there is no pay incentive for officers to work on those floors. This makes
no sense to us when one considers the conditions under which they work. Therefore, we
1. In light of the close continuous contact between correctional officers and the mentally
inmates they guard we recommend CIT Training for all correctional officers who
work on those floors.
2. As there are with some of the police departments that have Crisis Intervention Teams,
we recommend that the Department seek and award pay incentives to those
correctional officers who elect to serve their shifts working on the floors where the
mentally ill inmates are housed.
Chronically ill persons suffering from mental illness will end up coming to the
attention of the police. They may be involved in minor infractions (walking in traffic on
a busy street and talking to themselves) or they may have just become an eyesore for
business owners or residents in a particular neighborhood. Either scenario will usually
end up with police being called to the scene and often times will result in an arrest. The
offenses charged are usually very minor, and in cases involving defendants who are not
suffering from mental illness, are usually resolved within days of the arrest. “Credit for
time served” is a normal sentence offered by the court at jail arraignments (which are
held within 24 hours of a person’s arrest). Thus, a “normal” defendant may spend one or
two days in jail and his case is dismissed. The plight of the mentally ill defendant is
much different.


Depending on the mental state of the defendant at the time of his arrest, the
arresting officer may decide to Baker Act the defendant. Having a person Baker Acted is
an involuntary process designed to get mental health treatment for the person who is
posing a significant danger to himself or others and who is not able to take care of
himself.12 These persons are also recycled through the system. Recidivists Baker Act
examinations increased 50% between 2000 and 2002.13 In Fact, Florida law enforcement
officers alone initiate nearly 100 Baker Act cases each day. Moreover, in 2000, there
were 34 percent more Baker Act cases (80,869) than DUI arrests (60,337).


Many of

them will be referred to the state forensic hospitals.
The costs for this treatment is staggering. In 2003, Miami-Dade County had 250
persons committed to a Florida state forensic hospital. The cost for treatment was $28
million – for Miami-Dade County alone.
If the officer decides to arrest the subject instead of Baker Acting him, the subject
is taken to the jail.

Again, the defendant is screened during processing and a

determination is made as to the level of his present mental condition. Depending on that
assessment, he will either be placed in general population, or if undergoing a more severe
episode, placed on one of the psychiatric floors.
In an effort to identify the magnitude of the “revolving door” problem, a study
was conducted of persons with mental illnesses in the jail who were arrested over a oneyear time period.15 Within that 12-month period (2002), 3,070 individuals with mental
illnesses were arrested and booked into the jail. More than half of all the bookings were
for 3rd degree felonies16 (45%) and misdemeanor offenses (7%). The majority of the 3rd
degree felonies were drug-related charges. The 3,070 individuals actually accounted for
3,452 bookings because many of them were arrested multiple times during the course of



Florida Statute 394.467

The Sheriff’s Star, September/October 2004, p. 16


The determination of whether an inmate was suffering from mental illness was based on the inmate being
assigned to a cell on a psychiatric wing in the Pre-trial Detention Center or Women’s Detention Center.
16 rd
3 degree felonies are offenses which are the least severe under Florida’s criminal laws. They include
crimes such as grand theft; writing worthless checks; possessing illegal drugs; resisting arrest with
violence; and battery on a police officer. Possible punishments may include fines, probation, county jail
time or imprisonment in a state correctional facility for up to a maximum of five years.


the year. Of the total number of persons arrested, one in ten were arrested more than
once during that year. Forty-one percent (41%) of the 3,070 arrests were made by
officers with the Metro-Dade Police Department. Approximately thirty percent (30%)
were made by the City of Miami Police Department. It was estimated that half of the
arrests might have been avoided by taking mentally ill persons in crisis to a
receiving facility instead of to the jail. Further, providing specialized training to more
uniformed officers could assist the officers in identifying individuals who may have
mental illnesses and de-escalating potentially volatile situations. Absent the specialized
training and availability of Crisis Stabilization Units (“CSUs”) those suffering from
mental illness are arrested and the jail becomes the primary treatment facility for that
segment of our community. The jail does little more than warehouse (on a temporary
basis) and medicate thousands of mentally ill inmates every year. It is not intended, nor
was it designed to treat persons whose primary problem is sickness, not criminality.
Once they are arrested, other disparities in the criminal justice system begin. As
previously stated, mentally ill inmates in the jail stay eight times longer than inmates in
general population. This also is not just a local problem. On Rickers Island, New York
City’s largest jail, the average length of stay for all offenders is 42 days; it is 215 days for
inmates with serious mental illness.17 The inmate undergoing a mental health crisis is also
very likely to be placed in an administratively segregated section of the jail (psychiatric
wings and suicide watch cells) which will afford him less comforts and privileges
(including the right to visits from family members) in comparison to other inmates.
Some of these conditions themselves are very likely to bring on or exacerbate the
psychosis of those housed in such units. However, there is hope for improvement.
In spite of all the dire information set forth thus far in this report, there is some
good news to share regarding misdemeanor offenders who suffer from mental illness
and/or substance abuse.


Fox Butterfield, “Prisons Replace Hospitals for the Nation’s Mentally Ill,” New York Times, March 5,


In the year 2000, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project
was created.

Under the leadership of the Honorable Steven Leifman, Associate

Administrative Judge, Circuit Court Criminal Division, partnerships were formed with
the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), Jackson Memorial Hospital
(“JMH”), The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (“NAMI”), several police
departments and the criminal courts. The goal was to develop better ways of dealing with
the number of repeat misdemeanor offenders who suffered from mental illness and were
coming in contact with the criminal justice system. One of the greatest benefits thus far
from that collaboration was the creation of the Jail Diversion Program.
The Jail Diversion Program is designed to make jail the place of “last resort” for
persons with mental illness. It has two components (pre-arrest and post-arrest diversion
program) and includes a comprehensive case management program that addresses
transition and housing issues as well as substance abuse.18
As to the pre-arrest diversion, the program’s intent is to prevent persons with
mental illness from ever entering the criminal justice system.

In coming to an

understanding of how the program works, we also came to an understanding of why so
many partners had to be included in this effort. It starts with the uniformed police
officers on the street who are usually the first to encounter individuals who are in crisis
due to mental illness. Ideally, the officer responding to the call has received Crisis
Intervention Team Training and is a member of the police department’s Crisis
Intervention Team.19 Based on the training the officer is able to recognize that he is
dealing with someone with a mental illness and, using the tools developed during the
training, bring the encounter to a non-violent end. Once the misdemeanor offender is in
custody, the officer takes the individual to a county mental health receiving facility.
Upon arrival, the individual is evaluated and treated (stabilized) and referrals are
ultimately given for aftercare, housing and job training. The diversion to the mental
health receiving facility is in lieu of taking the misdemeanor offender to jail.


At least three-quarters of people with mental illness who are incarcerated have a co-occurring substance
abuse disorder.
More information on this topic is provided in Section II of this report, p. 23 to 28.


However, even in situations where an arrest is made for a misdemeanor offense,
the post-arrest aspect of the Criminal Mental Health Project may still be used to provide
treatment outside of the jail setting. Under the County Court Jail Diversion program, a
misdemeanor defendant suffering from a mental illness, who is taken to the jail, will have
his charges and mental health history reviewed. If the defendant meets the criteria,
within 24-48 hours after his arrest, he will be diverted to a community mental health
facility for appropriate treatment. In many cases, after a review of the charges and the
defendant’s mental health history, the State Attorneys Office and the defense attorney
may agree to have the charges dropped upon the defendant’s stabilization and successful
completion of a discharge plan. In situations where this is done, the defendant and his
case have effectively been removed from the criminal justice system within 24-48 hours
after his arrest.
The costs saved as a result of this diversion program include the following: daily
jail costs for housing, feeding and treating the inmate in the jail; additional correctional
officers who are needed to monitor the mentally ill jail population; court costs and
expenses of the judge, court clerk, bailiff, prosecutor, defense attorney, court reporter,
correctional officers and others who are present every time the case appears on a court
calendar; and the costs of taking police officers off the street to appear for trials and
hearings, sometimes at overtime rates because the court schedule is not within the
officer’s work schedule.
The primary reason that the recidivism rate for this population is so high is that
traditionally, a lot of money is spent stabilizing the individuals after they are arrested and
in the jail; however, no money (or thought) is given to providing a way to keep them
stabilized once they are released. The Mental Health Project addresses this much needed
We were pleased to hear that, as a result of tremendous success, the Criminal
Mental Health Project was awarded a one million dollar grant from the Substance Abuse
& Mental Health Administration to expand the existing jail diversion program. The
MMHP was only one of seventeen sites across the United States to receive funding
specifically for jail diversion purposes.


As part of the expansion, the new program will provide more Crisis Intervention
Team police training, which will allow more officers to be trained per year. The case
management aspects of the program will also be expanded, allowing for individualized
aftercare plans and continued reassessment of need for referrals for those involved in the
program. Finally, the expansion will also focus on jail diversion research, so that data
can be accumulated and evaluation of the program conducted.
The Florida Department of Children and Families is one of the partners in the
Project. DCF has assigned a case manager to the Post-booking Jail Diversion Program to
facilitate the discharge and aftercare planning for the misdemeanor defendants who are
diverted from the jail to mental health facilities. The aftercare is designed to provide a
full array of referrals, benefits and services to these individuals.

It includes:


assessment by the Court to determine the specific needs of the individual; a housing
component to ensure that adequate housing is available20; an ID Program that offers
identification cards to individuals in the program21; assistance in obtaining and expediting
access to certain benefits to which the individual may be entitled22; and providing a
contingency fund that is available to indigent program clients for housing and medication
needs. The aftercare plan also includes psychiatric follow-up, medication management,
mental health treatment follow-up and treatment for substance abuse.
Does it work? Since the inception of the program, there has been a drastic
reduction of arrests for this target population. Statistics reveal that 221 individuals were
diverted by the Jail Diversion Program in 2002. The number increased to 283 in 2003.
Prior to creation of the Jail Diversion program, the recidivism rate for this population was
estimated to be approximately 70%. It was reduced to 18% in the first year of operation
and dropped an additional 2% in 2003. A cost analysis23 conducted at the end of the first


The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and other community housing organizations are involved in
this aspect.
Very often, individuals cannot apply for or receive certain benefits without appropriate identification.
Camillus House assists in providing the identification cards.
This is achieved through collaboration with the local Social Security Administration Office and the
For the cost analysis, a target population was chosen. The target population was the highest utilizers of
services, recidivists in the Jail Diversion program. The only services and costs analyzed were costs for
acute mental health services, such as crisis stabilization, psychiatric emergency room visits and inpatient


year of operation estimated that the program saved Miami-Dade County $2.5 million
over the one-year time period. Although we believe this cost is conservative24, it still
amounts to a huge saving of taxpayer dollars.
For comparison purposes and to highlight the enormous costs that ensue due to a
failure to have a coordinated response and treatment plan for this population, we obtained
information from other jurisdictions that had done similar studies. During the year 2000,
taxpayers in King County (Seattle) Washington spent over $1.1 million on drug and
alcohol acute services and criminal justice resources for just 20 individuals.25 Similarly,
In Summit County (Akron) Ohio, during the year 2001, the cost to taxpayers for a group
of 20 individuals was $1.3 million.26
In 2004, the Florida legislature took steps to reform our Baker Act statute and the
way courts have dealt with the mentally ill. A Baker Act reform bill was passed that now
allows court-ordered outpatient treatment for persons with severe mental illness.27 The
law became effective January 1, 2005 and is intended to enhance mental health
intervention and treatment services. It has worked in other states.
For instance, New York has had a similar law for a few years. Review of
statistics from the first three years reveals that of the persons placed in court-ordered
outpatient treatment, 63% fewer were hospitalized, 55% fewer experienced
homelessness, 75% fewer were arrested and 69% fewer were incarcerated.28


statistics are very encouraging and would bode well for our state. However, the Florida
legislature did not fund any money for this new law. The monitoring of this population
will result in more hearings, more court time, more work for prosecutors and defense

hospitalization days following emergency room treatment; costs for time spent in jail; and psychological
The reason we believe the estimate to be conservative is that it does not include items such as: court
administrative costs, police time costs, ambulance services, mental health outpatient services and substance
abuse treatment.
Unpublished statistic courtesy of Patrick Vanzo, Administrator, Cross Systems Integration Efforts,
Department of Community and Human Services, King County, WA. This figure does not include the costs
for police time, ambulance services, sobering van services, county designate mental health professional
services, or administrative costs associated with these services.
Unpublished statistic courtesy of Dr. Mark Munetz, Chief Clinical Officer, Summit County, Ohio, ADM
Florida Statute 394.4655, Involuntary Outpatient Placement
The Sheriff’s Star, September/October 2004, p.16.


attorneys and more treatment facilities. The results from New York’s Kendra Law
Program will not be replicated here with Florida’s unfunded mandate.
More Good News
In the November 2004 election, voters in Miami-Dade County overwhelmingly
approved the 2004 General Obligation Bond Program for Building Better Communities.
Included in the list of projects is the creation of a Mental Health Facility that is
specifically designed “to free up jail space and provide an effective and cost-efficient
alternative facility to house the mentally ill as they await a trial date.” Twenty-two
million dollars will be used to upgrade the existing facility (the South Florida Evaluation
and Treatment Center) to create a short-term residential and receiving facility. The plan
is to have courtrooms and provide social services in the same building. The completion
of the project is several years away, however, it is most definitely a step in the right
We do not believe that persons who are sick have to go to jail before they can
receive treatment for their illness. We also do not believe that officials should continue
to spend tax dollars on persons being recycled through our criminal justice system while
at the same time not adequately funding programs and services to help keep these persons
from returning to our jails. It is definitely cheaper (and more humane) to treat these
individuals outside of a jail setting.
1. We recommend that state and local governmental officials, in conjunction with
the persons, agencies and entities involved in mental health issues, work
collaboratively and expeditiously to construct a facility that can be used to house,
treat and provide social services in one location to mentally ill inmates who are in
custody awaiting trial.
2. Until construction of the facility referred to in Recommendation 3 above, we
recommend that more doctors and more social workers be assigned to work in all
local pre-trial detention facilities.
3. Having a new law that allows the court to order outpatient treatment for the
mentally ill is useless if there are no programs or services available to which to


refer them.

Accordingly, we recommend that our state legislature provide

funding for the Baker Act reform bill in hopes that Florida will reap the same
benefits as New York from passage of its statewide Kendra’s Law.
4. In connection with the Baker Act reform bill, we recommend that our State
legislature provide funding to increase the number of community based mental
health facilities and thereby increase the number and level of services available to
the mentally ill in our state.
5. The state is spending large sums of money for crisis care and stabilization of the
mentally ill after they decompensate. We strongly recommend that the state
legislature provide adequate funding for long term care, which will result in the
creation of case management works who can assist the mentally ill in maintaining
a stable lifestyle.
6. We recommend that our state and local government officials provide funding
and/or matching dollars to assist in the expansion of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit
of Florida Criminal Mental Health Project and its Jail Diversion Program.

One of the obvious results of recycling the mentally ill through our criminal
justice system is increased contact between law enforcement and this population. The
interactions are fraught with danger for both the police and the subjects. Very often,
police officers responding to calls involving subjects with mental illness are not sure
what they are dealing with and resort to the techniques they were taught in training. The
officers are trained to take control of the scene and the situation and their primary goal is
to get the subject to obey and/or respond to the officer’s commands. This is usually
accomplished (or sought to be accomplished) through loud voice commands to the
subject, calling for back-up and exhibiting a “show of force.” Any level of resistance is
met with a higher degree of force.
In many instances, the subjects are persons who are experiencing psychiatric
episodes because they failed to take their medications. As a result, they are paranoid and
feel that folks are out to get them. Although they may be relatively harmless when

properly medicated, they may very well pose a danger to themselves, caring family
members, strangers and police when they fail or refuse to take their medications. While
in this mental state, a loud, authoritative voice from a police officer only exacerbates the
situation. Presenting a show of force and closing in on the subject confirm his paranoia
and increase the likelihood that the confrontation will end in violence.

There is a

significant, tri-fold price tag associated with these police/citizen encounters.
First, police officers are injured and must seek medical care. Moreover, serious
injuries to the officers may also lead to time lost from work and the filing of worker’s
compensation claims. Similarly, the mentally ill subjects also receive serious (sometimes
fatal) injuries as a result of these encounters. Their medical care for the physical injuries
suffered during these encounters, more often than not, is provided by the public hospital,
Jackson Memorial Hospital. All of these costs are paid with taxpayer dollars. Finally,
many of the injured subjects (or their surviving family members) file lawsuits against the
individual police officers, the police department and sometimes, even the county
government or municipality employing the police officer alleging that officers were not
trained properly, should not have been hired and/or acted inappropriately or with
excessive force in the encounter. As for this final category, millions of dollars have been
paid out through settlements or as a result of damage awards by trial juries.
At this point, it is necessary to discuss the law in the State of Florida that governs
officers in these sometimes-deadly encounters between police and civilians.
Deadly Force
Florida, like all states in this country, recognizes the inherent danger faced by
police officers in their daily occupation. Their job requires that they come into contact
with mean, vicious, sometimes sociopathic criminals on a regular basis. The acts of
violence committed by these criminals include murder, armed robbery, sexual battery
(rape), child abuse and home invasions. We, as law abiding citizens, do not want to deal
with these persons and so, when we have problems, we call “911” to summon the police.
We expect them to respond to the scene immediately and take care of whomever and
whatever is causing the problem. These encounters are often deadly for the criminals and
the police. In light of the dangerous nature of the job, the Florida legislature has granted

broad powers to police officers who are engaged in the lawful performance of their
duties. One of the powers given to police is the right to use “deadly force.”
Deadly force, as defined by Florida Statute 776.06 (1), means force that is likely
to cause death or great bodily harm. This includes a law enforcement officer firing a
firearm in the direction of a person to be arrested. The term deadly force does not
include the discharge by a law enforcement officer of a firearm which is loaded with a
less than-lethal munition. The statute defines “less than-lethal munition” as a projectile
that is designed to stun, temporarily incapacitate, or cause temporary discomfort to a
person without penetrating a person’s body.29
In addition to the Deadly Force Statute, Florida also has a specific law governing
the amount of force an officer can use in making an arrest. Under Florida Statute 776.05,
(1), a law enforcement officer in Florida who encounters a person who is resisting or
threatening resistance to being arrested is not required to retreat or desist from efforts to
make a lawful arrest. In fact, the officer is justified in the use of any force (including
deadly force), which he reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself or another
from bodily harm while making an arrest. This provision has proven fatal for many
mentally ill subjects who were engaged in bizarre and dangerous behavior with the
For Failures in Providing Appropriate Treatment for the Mentally Ill, What Is the
Cost In Lives?
Based on Florida Statute 776.05 (1) most of the shootings committed by police
officers in this county are found to be “legally justified”.

In those situations, law

enforcement officers have encountered persons armed with knives, machetes, pistols,
rifles, shotguns, sword-length shards of glass, and other items that could be used to cause
death or great bodily harm to the officer or to others. In some cases, the persons are not
armed with weapons; however, they have things in their hands that cause officers to
reasonably believe that they are in possession of a firearm or other weapon. Finally,
there are instances where the subjects, in addition to not following the officer’s


Florida Statute 776.06 (2)(a)


instructions, reach in the area of their waistband (as if to pull a gun), reach under the seat
of a car, reach for a glove compartment or drive a vehicle in the direction of an officer
who is trying to make an arrest. Under Florida law, the use of deadly force by the
officers in these situations has been determined to be “legally justified.” Many subjects
shot by police were suffering from mental illness and officers may have had little time to
react to the violent situation confronting them. In other words, there were no alternatives.
However, a great number of confrontations take place where, with more options and
better training, lives could be saved.
For instance, some of the subjects shot by police officers are not armed, do not
appear to be armed, but become involved in violent physical struggles with officers.
Often, the police use other tools before resorting to deadly force (batons, pepper spray,
etc.) In many of these instances, deadly force is used as a “last resort.” These scenarios
usually play out over a period of time after the initial encounter, and most likely involve
an escalation of emotions and actions for both the officers and the subjects. A great
number of the subjects involved in these struggles are also persons suffering from mental
illness. Again, as reported to us, the overwhelming contributing factor to their behavior
is that they failed to take their medications. They have no desire to commit a crime and
may end up doing so only through failure to follow the officer’s commands.30
The sometimes-tragic consequences from these encounters were significantly
underscored with an incident that occurred near the end of our term.31 According to
eyewitness accounts, the incident involved a Miami-Dade Police Officer and a resident
who had a history of mental illness, the onset of which began after the resident had
served a stint in the armed forces. After an initial verbal exchange between the officer
and the subject, there was an escalation of the encounter. Additional units were called to
the scene and after their arrival, a physical struggle occurred between a number of
officers and the subject. During the violent encounter, officers struck the subject with
their A.S.P. batons. The subject punched one of the female officers and at some point

A report issued by Human Rights Watch estimated that thousands of mentally ill people are imprisoned
for crimes “they might never have committed had they been able to access therapy, medications and
assisted-living facilities.”
As this was an open investigation, we did not receive any formal testimony or evidence about this
incident. Our account and description of what transpired is based on information reported in the media
from eyewitness accounts and statements issued by the police department’s spokespersons.


during the confrontation he was able to obtain possession of one of the A.S.P. batons. A
family member also became involved in trying to restrain the subject and he was also
struck by one of the batons during the struggle. As the subject was preparing to strike
one of the officers with the baton, he was shot several times by an officer and died as a
result of those wounds.
Some of the more troubling aspects of this incident from our perspective relate to
the fact that the subject was known in the neighborhood and was known to be suffering
from some form of mental illness. If his condition was so well known, the officers
patrolling in the area should also have known and the approach used with the subject
should have been more appropriate.
We make note of this incident to highlight two (2) major trends that have been
taking place in the law enforcement community for the past few years. We think each of
them has reduced and will continue to reduce the number of deadly and violent
encounters between police and persons suffering from mental illness.
Crisis Intervention Team Training and Less Than Lethal Weapons
One of the most significant changes that has taken place over the past several
years has been the introduction of Crisis Intervention Team Training at many of the city
and municipal police departments in Miami-Dade County.

Coupled with the

implementation of effective “less than lethal” weapons, there has been a sharp decrease in
the number of deaths that result from police encounters with mentally ill subjects. To
fully appreciate the impact of both of these developments, we must take another historical
The Crisis Intervention Team (“CIT”) model used by police departments in
Miami-Dade County originated in 1987 in Memphis, Tennessee following a police
shooting of a young black male. The CIT Training program is a 40-hour course that
educates police officers about mental illness and trains them on the different tools they
can use when they come into contact with persons suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar
disorder or other severe mental illness. More often than not, the CIT training is much


different than that which was presented in the past to rookie officers in the police
For instance, the police academy trains police officers that they are to take
command upon their arrival at any given scene. Taking command is accomplished by a
number of means:

verbal command; a show of force demonstrated by calling for

additional police units; yelling; physical force; surrounding and/or closing in on the
subject; display of a weapon (A.S.P. expandable baton, firearm, etc.); and ultimately, use
of a weapon. Employing any of these methods in an encounter with a mentally ill person
will usually guarantee that there is going to be a violent encounter between the police and
the subject. Each of the training tools taught in the academy is designed to work when
dealing with sane, rational individuals. However, yelling, threatening, closing in upon,
displaying weapons and using physical force exacerbate the paranoia of the

It creates fear in the mind of the paranoid subject (who may be

experiencing such an episode solely because he failed to take his medications) and only
serves to confirm what he believes in his mind, namely that people are “out to get him.”
Officers who undergo Crisis Intervention Team Training are taught how to
identify person with mental illness. They are educated about different tools to use when
they encounter the mentally ill. They speak to them in calmer tones. They allow a safe
distance between the subject and the officer as a means of reducing the paranoia. The use
of these (and other) tools very often allows the police to “control” these subjects without
the use of physical force. The benefits are fewer injuries to the officers and the subjects,
reduced worker’s compensation claims filed by officers injured on duty and fewer
lawsuits filed against the law enforcement agencies. The results have been nothing short
of astounding for the departments that have adopted the CIT Training program. The
following police departments have participated in the program: Miami Police, Miami
Beach Police, Key Biscayne Police, Pinecrest Police, Dade County School Police,
Hialeah Police and North Miami Beach Police.

Additionally, the following


expressed an interest in receiving CIT Training: Opa Locka Police Department, Sunny
Isles Police Department, Florida International University Police Department and Miami
Shores Police Department. We will review information regarding several departments
that have seen benefits from Crisis Intervention Team Training.

City of Miami Police Department
The City of Miami Police Department (MPD) started its Crisis Intervention Team
in late 2003. A group of trained professionals at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Crisis
Intervention Center developed the 40-hour course and taught the first group of thirty-nine
officers for free.32 Since the graduation of that first group of officers, the MPD now has a
team of eighty-three officers who have volunteered for and completed the training. In
fact, all of the MPD’s Field Training Officers (FTOs) are members of the Crisis
Intervention Team. 33 An additional wave of MPD officers are being trained to serve as
backup CIT members. Rookie officers are required to ride along with FTO’s during their
first three months as officers.
With eighty-three officers now certified in CIT Training, the City of Miami has
CIT coverage geographically as well as across all three work shifts. This broad coverage
increases the likelihood that whenever and wherever there is an incident involving a
mentally ill offender, a CIT member will be available to respond to the call.
Pursuant to the MPD’s protocol for handling calls with mentally ill subjects,
regardless of the ranks of all officers at a scene, the Crisis Intervention Team member
(regardless of his rank) takes charge of the scene upon his arrival. The CIT member
becomes the exclusive person communicating with the subject. Rookie police officers
who are present for these encounters will have the opportunity to watch their FTO
identify, de-escalate and successfully handle a mental health crisis without violence or
the use of deadly force. Through observation and interaction with the FTOs, the rookie
officers gain additional tools to use in their encounters with mentally ill subjects. MPD’s
training regimen, in this regard, allows the FTOs to pass on the knowledge they have
gained to the newest crop of officers who most definitely will have their share of mental
health related calls.


Once the officers completed training, they were each given a new “less than lethal” weapon to use – a
Taser. More information on Tasers is provided in Section II. B. below. See pages 29 - 35.
FTOs are veteran police officers who are involved in further training of rookie police officers once they
graduate from the police academy. Each rookie is required to ride along with a FTO for the first three
months on duty.


Responding to calls involving mentally ill subjects is inevitable for all City of
Miami Police Officers. Within their jurisdiction lies Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Crisis
Center, the Dade County Jail and a number of homeless shelters and treatment facilities.
As many of those with mental illnesses are homeless, when they are released from the
various facilities, they very often return to the same streets upon which they were last

After Crisis Intervention Teams were established, the number of police

shootings was drastically reduced. For instance, in 2003 alone the MPD’s CIT handled
3,597 calls for service. Not one shot was fired by a MPD officer during that time period.
In fact, the department went for more than 18 months without an injury to an officer or a
shooting by an officer.34
Miami Beach
The Miami Beach Police Department has also had its officers trained for CIT.
The department has also tried to get the community involved by sending out notices and
information to residents with their utility bills. In the event residents are required to call
the police for situations involving persons in crisis, residents are instructed to notify the
911 operator so that the information can be included in the dispatch to the police. The
goal is to have the officers on notice before they arrive on the scene and increase the
likelihood that a CIT member will respond to the call initially.

MDPD and CIT Training?
The Miami-Dade Police Department is the largest police force in Miami-Dade
County. As expected, it has more arrests than any other department, and consequently,
more police/citizen encounters. Over the past several years, there has been a rallying cry
from elected officials and others to have MDPD adopt the CIT Program. These cries
normally come on the heels of a police shooting of another mentally ill subject. To date,
MDPD has not adopted the program. During the course of our term, the MDPD got a
new Director for its Department and we met with him.


The eighteen month long record was broken when an armed suspect turned toward officers while trying
to flee after committing a robbery.


In 2001, the MDPD conducted an evaluation of the CIT Model. Recognizing that
they were operating in a community with a significant mentally ill population and would
have to train a large number of officers, MDPD determined that the Memphis Model was
not workable for a department of its size in a jurisdiction that covers more than 2,000
square miles. Instead, what MDPD has done is to embark upon a multi-tiered approach
to improve the manner in which the department’s officers respond to and handle calls
involving mentally ill persons.
The department’s efforts to better equip its officers to deal with mentally ill
subjects actually begin before they become sworn law enforcement officers. All persons
desiring to become officers with the MDPD must successfully complete and graduate
from the Department of Justice’s Regional Community Police Institute, commonly
referred to as the Police Academy. The training at the academy includes educating cadets
on the Use of Force Matrix35 (which has now been modified with the advent of the
deployment of Tasers) and teaches them a tool called “verbal judo.” Verbal judo is
designed to train the officers how they can diffuse a situation by engaging a suspect
verbally instead of by the use of physical force. This skill becomes invaluable when
dealing with a paranoid schizophrenic subject who does not want to be touched or
surrounded by a team of police officers. More importantly, beginning in July 2003, the
academy also provides a two-day, 16-hour course on Managing Encounters With the
Mentally Ill. This portion of the training is specifically designed to educate the cadets
about mental illness and give them tools they can use when they interact with mentally ill
subjects and suspects. All new recruits must pass this course before they can be sworn in
as law enforcement officers with the MDPD. With 4 to 5 graduating classes per year,
with approximately 35 students each, the department has a number of rookie officers who
have been joining the ranks with some general knowledge and specific tools to use when
responding to Baker Act calls or other interactions with the mentally ill.
The first tier of the Director’s three-tiered approach was to get training for the
uniformed officers who are usually the first responders to the dispatch calls.


A Use of Force Matrix is a guideline used by police departments to educate their officers on the different
levels of force they can use when encountering subjects. The Matrix contains an escalation on the types of
force which can be used and offers examples of the types of behavior that would legally justify the use of
specific types of force.


department provided in-service trainings for 1,854 uniform patrol officers. The two-day,
16 hour training program is the same Managing Encounters with the Mentally Ill course
that is presently being taught in the academy. To date, all uniformed officers with the
MDPD have successfully completed this training program.
As part of the first tier, the Department will also provide the same training to
specialized unit officers such as Detectives in the Robbery, Domestic Violence and
Sexual Battery Units. Second only to the uniformed patrol officers, these detectives are
likely to come into contact with suspects and subjects suffering from mental illness. Next
on the list to be trained are the 415 support personnel. The department’s Training Bureau
is coordinating the two-day training for all of these individuals and departments.
The second tier will begin in January 2005 and encompasses a 40-hour training
for all of the approximately 550 Field Training Officers (“FTOs”). The 40-hour Crisis
Intervention Model type training for the MDPD FTOs and the Field Training Squad is
similar to the Memphis model. It is conducted at JMH and the presenters are licensed
mental health practitioners. The Director’s plan is to have all FTOs trained by July 2005.
Similar to the procedures in the other departments that adopted the Memphis Model CIT
program, rookie officers are paired with FTOs. As FTOs are spread out over all of the
department’s districts and work on all three shifts, when a call comes in and the
dispatcher knows there may be a mentally ill person involved, an FTO will be dispatched
to the scene. Pairing the rookie officers with the FTOs allows the rookies to benefit from
the FTOs 40-hour CIT training when responding to these calls.
In addition to the various training provided to the recruits, uniformed officers,
specialized unit officers and FTOs, the department also has approximately thirty (30)
Special Response Team Members. The Special Response Team Members, also referred
to as Negotiators, have all successfully completed the 40-hour basic CIT course as well
as an 80-hour advanced course that includes training on how to deal with mentally ill
persons. The negotiators also receive monthly refresher training that may include mental
health encounters. They comprise the third tier of the MDPD’s department-wide training
of its officers to handle mental health calls.


Through the training conducted for the MDPD officers at all levels in the
department, Director Robert Parker is trying to change the way his officers handle calls
involving the mentally ill. Although our preference would have been for the largest
department in the county to adopt and buy into this very successful program, we
recognize that we are not law enforcement officers and are not in a position to secondguess the department’s decision that the Memphis model CIT Training Program is not
workable for the department. We applaud the Director and his department’s effort and
encourage its brass to continue its efforts in developing and extending its progress on
Crisis Intervention Teams.
1. We strongly recommend that every police department is Miami-Dade County
create Crisis Intervention Teams with its uniformed officers.
2. We recognize that tragedies can be averted by swift reaction and response to
crime scenes by CIT members. In that regard, we strongly recommend that
area residents who call 911 when they observe a family member, friend, loved
one or stranger in crisis, do the following:
a. Inform the dispatcher that the nature of the call relates to someone who is
suffering from mental illness;
b. Inform the dispatcher of any relevant medical history of the subject, and
c. Request that a Crisis Intervention Team member respond to the scene.
One of the other major developments that has been occurring in our communities
(and nationwide) is the use of an innovative “less than lethal” weapon – the Taser.
Tasers, maybe more appropriately called “stun guns”, are used by officers to temporarily
immobilize and incapacitate subjects so that officers are able to dissipate threats or
effectively apprehend otherwise unruly subjects. The popular models used by local
departments fire two probes that are attached to wires. The probes can be fired from a
distance of up to 21 feet. In close physical struggles, the Taser will also deliver its
“stunning” effect by direct placement of the Taser against the subject. Upon contact with
the probes or direct contact with the Taser, the individual receives 50,000 volts at very
low amperage that neurologically causes the individual to lose control of his motor


functions. The “stunning” effect usually lasts only about five seconds and after that 5
second time period, the individual has total and complete control of his body and can
continue whatever activity he was engaged in before he was tased.
We must first note that there have been several recent incidents involving Tasers
used on children here in Miami-Dade County. As reported by the media, the children’s
ages were 6, 12 and 16 years. Although several of the incidents gained nationwide
attention, the use of Tasers on children is not a focus of this report.
In that regard, however, many, if not all, of the police departments have
specifications for classifications of persons who should not be Tasered. For instance, the
policy for the Aventura Police Department provides that the Taser “should not be used on
any juvenile under the age of 12 and/or a juvenile who appears to be physically under the
age of 11. Similarly, it recommends that the Taser “shall not be used on females who are
known to be pregnant or who appear to be pregnant.” Although we offer no opinion on
these guidelines and prohibitions, we do recognize that they indicate efforts by the
departments to protect those who may be vulnerable to the stunning and immobilizing
effect of the Taser.

Further, even though the general use of Tasers as a tool in

apprehending criminals and protecting officers and civilians is mentioned in this Grand
Jury Report, it too is not the issue we want readers to focus upon. This section of the
report is specifically written to address the issue of persons who suffer from mental
illness who become involved in encounters with the police in Miami-Dade County. In
light of the tremendous benefits that have been received from the use of this “less than
lethal weapon”, we strongly recommend that police departments in our community
continue to train and equip its officers with Tasers.

This Grand Jury strongly

recommends the use of Tasers by police as a “less than lethal” weapon in their
confrontations and dangerous encounters with mentally ill subjects. It saves lives!! Our
justifications for these recommendations are set forth below.
We Believe Tasers Save Lives
Many community residents may take issue with this recommendation, as they
believe it constitutes mistreatment of a segment of our population that is routinely
misused and abused. However, the members of this Grand Jury have come to realize that


in many cases, if police do not have ready use of a “less than lethal” weapon, the likely
end of the conflict will be the death of the mentally ill subject. Thus, when the choice is
between five seconds of neurological incapacitation or death, we choose the former. As
indicated earlier in this report, Florida law empowers officers to use deadly force in these
We recognize that there is a possibility of abuse and that Tasers, as well as pepper
spray, batons and firearms can be used inappropriately by some police officers. We do
not see that as a justification to take these tools away from the officers. Instead, we think
all of the police departments should adopt and/or refine their guidelines for use of these
weapons. Further, we believe they should be consistent in imposing discipline against all
officers that violate the guidelines.
Individuals in our community who are not knowledgeable about the information
we received during our term may dispute our statement that the use of Tasers by police
officers in our community has saved, and will save, lives of adults in our community,
particularly those with mental health issues. To drive this point home, we decided to
include some specific case scenarios we reviewed that ended in death or serious bodily
injury, but which may have been avoided if the officers had Tasers available during the
State Attorney’s Office Shooting Review Team
We must first point out that the State Attorneys Office has a Police Shooting
Review Team that ultimately reviews every police shooting in Miami-Dade County that
results in death or injury to a subject or other officer. It is a process that has been
completely re-shaped by State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and we commend
its design. The SAO’s review chronologically begins when the Assistant State Attorney
on call responds to the scene of the shooting. The SAO’s review is specifically designed
to determine whether the shooting was legally justified under Florida law. Each review is
concluded with a close-out memo that is sent to the police department whose officer was
involved in the shooting. Based on Florida law, most of the shootings are ruled “legally
justified” even when they were also preventable. This was the conclusion in a number of
the Police Shooting Review Team close-out memos.


In the Appendix we have provided descriptions of six of those encounters that
actually occurred in recent years between officers and civilians in Miami-Dade County.
The incidents involved persons who were in crisis as a result of mental illness or had a
prior history of mental illness. One of the reasons for including so many incidents is to
make the point that lives can be saved with the use of Tasers. One of the other reasons is
to make our legislators and other elected officials intimately aware of the danger they are
placing our officers in as a result of their failure to fund the necessary programs and
services to treat the mentally ill population. We strongly encourage every reader to not
put this report down until he has read all six incidents.
The law authorized the use of deadly force in each of these situations. Absent any
viable alternative, officers are forced to use deadly force to protect themselves or to
secure an arrest. Training and use of the Taser gives an alternative for the officer that
does not have a deadly consequence. Based on the information we received during our
investigation, no deaths have been caused solely by the use of Tasers.36 Tasers are not
designed to kill nor are they used for that purpose. On the other hand, when an officer
uses his gun, it is accurately described as “deadly” because that is exactly what it is
intended to do – kill. Contrary to television entertainment programs and westerns, police
officers are not trained to shoot weapons out of the hands of armed suspects nor are they
trained to “wound” persons who are posing threats. They are trained to use “deadly
force” to dissipate a threat. Again, “deadly force” is force that is likely to cause death or
great bodily harm. We applaud all of the police departments in Miami-Dade County that
have adopted use of the Tasers and we recognize that lives have been saved as a result.
Officers Believe Tasers Save Lives Too
In addition to our belief that the continued use of Tasers will save lives, we
received testimony from law enforcement officers who agreed with us. A Major with the
Miami-Dade Police Department described two specific recent incidents that occurred in


We are aware of the numerous media reports that have aired regarding persons who have died after being
stunned by Tasers. The implication in many of those reports was that the deaths were caused by the Tasers.
In all of the instances we followed, autopsy reports revealed the cause of death to be drug overdoses and/or
other underlying medical conditions. As a result of that information, we are not hesitant to make this


the same week involving officers in his district. One involved a 6’9” tall male with a
history of mental problems who was refusing to be Baker Acted. He was immobilized
with the Taser, cuffed and taken away without injury to the officers or himself. The other
incident involved a young female who also had a history of mental problems. She was
wielding two butcher knives and slashing at officers and civilians. By placing chairs
between the knife-wielding subject and themselves, the officers who initially responded
to the scene were able to keep her at bay until an officer with a stun gun arrived. She was
stunned, dropped the knives, was handcuffed and taken away. Absent the arrival of the
Taser, officers may have had to use deadly force to dissipate the threat and/or prevent her
from causing death or serious bodily injury to the officer or others.
Coupled with the three-tiered approach to educating its officers in handling calls
involving the mentally ill, the department also initiated the use of Tasers in June 2003.
Initially, 72 Tasers were issued only to sergeants. Four months later, after determining
that Tasers were a viable option for its officers, a decision was made to begin issuing
Tasers to the uniformed officers. As of November 2004, the MDPD had issued 422
Tasers. They are presently evenly distributed throughout the Department’s 9 districts.
Prior to receiving a Taser, each officer is required to complete an eight-hour training
course on use of the Taser. Under the present policy, each officer is also stunned with the
Taser as part of the training.
According to the Aventura Police Department, it is another police agency that has
seen positive results with the use of Tasers. Aventura was the first department in MiamiDade County to issue Tasers to all of its officers.37 All officers were trained prior to
receiving a Taser and they receive refresher training annually.
Use of Tasers by law enforcement also brings another benefit: it protects the
health of the arresting officer. Many of our witnesses described incidents where they or
their colleagues were bitten, scratched or spat upon by persons that they later discovered
were HIV positive, had AIDS or hepatitis. One witness described how a Baker Act
subject bit a plug out of his forearm. The same witness described how another veteran
officer retired due to complications with liver disease. These complications were a direct

The department had 76 officers at the time Chief Tom Ribel presented his testimony to the Grand Jury.


result of the officer contracting hepatitis C.38 Most of us do not leave home wondering
whether we will contract a life-threatening disease while at work.

It is a daily

occupational hazard for law enforcement officers, a risk that is sometimes diminished
through use of the Taser.
The Aventura Police Department, though small in size, has a high arrest rate,
primarily due to the presence of the Aventura Mall in its jurisdiction. The Aventura
Hospital is also under its jurisdiction and as a result, officers regularly encounter persons
with mental illnesses who decide to leave the hospital. Often times, the persons are
acting out by the time police arrive at the scene. Taking these individuals into custody,
either for return to the hospital or to jail, sometimes requires physical altercations. As
previously stated, two of the direct consequences of these struggles are injuries to officers
and subjects. Aventura’s police department has seen a reduction in injuries to both
groups with the deployment of the Tasers. The Chief of the Department provided us with
some statistics to make his point.
From April 1, 1997 to September 15, 2004, the department had 131 use of force
incidents.39 Fifty-five (55) of the use of force incidents did not involve the use of Tasers;
seventy-six (76) of them did. The comparisons of injuries to officers and offenders in
both categories is very telling. Of the 55 non-Taser incidents, 17 officers (30%) and 25
offenders (45%) were injured. Conversely, of the 76 incidents where Tasers were used,
there was a 41% decrease in injuries to officers and a 60% decrease in injuries to
offenders. See Appendix C.
Policies on Use of Tasers by Officers
As with most of the police departments using Tasers, Aventura has specified
policies dictating when the Taser can be used and requires that a report be written every
time the Taser is discharged. This is designed to prevent (or discourage) any abuse or
unauthorized use of the weapon. Each of the Tasers has a records storage function,
which stores the time, date and type of discharge (prongs or direct contact). Additionally,

Intravenous drug users represent the largest single risk group for testing positive for hepatitis C infection.
Prisoners have enormous incidence of infection and many inmates are drug abusers.
Officers are required to file Use of Force Reports whenever they use force to subdue and/or take a
suspect into custody. Most, if not all, departments have such a requirement.


when fired, the weapons release numerous small chads (confetti sized bits of paper),
which contain the serial numbers for the Taser being fired. The chads provide physical
evidence at the scene that Taser probes were fired from the cartridge. The information on
the chads makes it easy to identify the officer(s) who fired a Taser cartridge during an
encounter. The Aventura Police Department also conducts random checks of the Tasers.
The policy requirement of random checks40 of Tasers is another deterrent to abusive use
of the Tasers.
1. We recommend that police departments continue with the deployment of Tasers
to its officers and that the officers receive adequate training on proper use of
2. To the extent they do not have them, we recommend that all police departments in
Miami-Dade County that issue Tasers to its officers adopt policies and procedures
that require, at a minimum:
(a) Documentation and/or reports of every discharge of a Taser;
(b) Random testing to ensure that officers are documenting all discharges of their
(c) Severe discipline for any officer who inappropriately uses his Taser or
engages in abusive behavior with the Taser;
(d) Specified guidelines on target populations for whom Tasers should not be
Each of these incidents corroborates our belief that the continued (and even
expanded) use of Tasers by law enforcement officers in our community will save lives
and prevent injuries to officers and offenders alike.41
During our term, this Grand Jury was made aware of a serious problem affecting our
community and our state – the failure to provide effective, long-term treatment and care
of the mentally ill who live among us. We are spending significant amounts of taxpayer

During the random checks, the data from the Taser is downloaded into a software program. The data will
include the date and time of each discharge for that particular Taser. That information will be checked
against all reports and documented discharges. Any undocumented discharges are immediately reported to
the Deputy Chief and Chief of Police.
We understand that an “injury” is inflicted by the penetration of the small prongs from the stun gun. This
pales in comparison to receiving gunshot wounds.


dollars on stabilization and crisis care when we could more effectively spend less money
for long-term care and obviate the crisis. We trust that our elected officials reading this
report will take heed to the recommendations contained herein. Their failure to do so will
only result in more persons being recycled through our jails and prisons and, very
probably, more deaths.
In that regard, this Grand Jury has also come to an understanding of the everpresent dangers and stresses faced by law enforcement officers as they engage in their
daily occupations. We now recognize that uniformed officers with these departments
will more than likely be the ones to respond to calls for assistance when the mentally ill
are in crisis in our homes and communities. We hope the police departments will also
take heed to the recommendations set forth herein.

We believe adhering to these

recommendations will result in better understanding of mental illness by the police, and
less loss of life for those who are sick and in crisis.
With regard to Section I of the Report, we make the following Recommendations:
1. In light of the close continuous contact between correctional officers and the mentally
inmates they guard we recommend CIT Training for all correctional officers who
work on those floors.
2. As there are with some of the police departments that have Crisis Intervention Teams,
we recommend that the Department seek and award pay incentives to those
correctional officers who elect to serve their shifts working on the floors where the
mentally ill inmates are housed.
3. We recommend that state and local governmental officials, in conjunction with the
persons, agencies and entities involved in mental health issues, work collaboratively
and expeditiously to construct a facility that can be used to house, treat and provide
social services in one location to mentally ill inmates who are in custody awaiting


4. Until construction of the facility referred to in Recommendation 3 above, we
recommend that more doctors and more social workers be assigned to work in all
local pre-trial detention facilities.
5. Having a new law that allows the court to order outpatient treatment for the mentally
ill is useless if there are no programs or services available to which to refer them.
Accordingly, we recommend that our state legislature provide funding for the Baker
Act reform bill in hopes that Florida will reap the same benefits as New York from
passage of its statewide Kendra’s Law.
6. In connection with the Baker Act reform bill, we recommend that our State legislature
provide funding to increase the number of community based mental health facilities
and thereby increase the number and level of services available to the mentally ill in
our state.
7. The state is spending large sums of money for crisis care and stabilization of the
mentally ill after they decompensate.

We strongly recommend that the state

legislature provide adequate funding for long term care, which will result in the
creation of case management works who can assist the mentally ill in maintaining a
stable lifestyle.
8. We recommend that our state and local government officials provide funding and/or
matching dollars to assist in the expansion of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida
Criminal Mental Health Project and its Jail Diversion Program.
With regard to Section I of the Report, we make the following Recommendations:
9. We strongly recommend that every police department is Miami-Dade County create
Crisis Intervention Teams with its uniformed officers.
10. We recommend that police departments continue with the deployment of Tasers to its
officers and that the officers receive adequate training on proper use of Tasers.
11. To the extent they do not have them, we recommend that all police departments in
Miami-Dade County that issue Tasers to its officers adopt policies and procedures
that require, at a minimum:
(e) Documentation and/or reports of every discharge of a Taser;


(f) Random testing to ensure that officers are documenting all discharges of their
(g) Severe discipline for any officer who inappropriately uses his Taser or
engages in abusive behavior with the Taser;
(h) Specified guidelines on target populations for whom Tasers should not be
12. We recognize that tragedies can be averted by swift reaction and response to crime
scenes by CIT members. In that regard, we strongly recommend that area residents
who call 911 when they observe a family member, friend, loved one or stranger in
crisis, do the following:
a. Inform the dispatcher that the nature of the call relates to someone who is
suffering from mental illness;
b. Inform the dispatcher of any relevant medical history of the subject, and
c. Request that a Crisis Intervention Team member respond to the scene.


Appendix A: Demographic Information on Mentally Ill Subjects Arrested And Booked
into the Dade County jails in 2002

Demographic Information for 3,070 individuals who were 1) arrested and jailed at the
Pre-trial Detention Center or Women’s Annex in 2002; and 2) suspected of having severe
and persistent mental illness.

Descriptive statistics for the 3,070 are:


o Male

78.4% (2,407)

o Female

21.6% ( 663)

o Under 21



o 21-29



o 30-39

26.2 % (803)

o 40-49



o 50-59





o 50 and older

o Black

51.9% (1,593)

o White

48.1% (1,476)

o Unknown

< 1%




Appendix B: Actual Police Encounters With Violent Subjects
Actual Police Encounters With Violent Subjects
Incident #1
On Saturday, February 8, 2003, around midnight, two officers with the MiamiDade Police Department responded to a call regarding a disturbance at a residence in
North Dade. One officer had been with the department 10 months. The other, a trainee,
had been in training for 6-7 months. Upon arrival, the officers observed a male subject
with shirt, pants and no shoes holding what appeared to be a 10-inch knife in his hand.
The officers made repeated requests to the subject to drop the “knife.” Instead of
dropping it, the subject advanced towards the officers with the “knife.” To defend
themselves, the officers would have been authorized at that point to use deadly force.
Instead, they jumped into the police car and retreated from the subject. The subject
continued to advance upon the officers in the police car as the officers continued their
demand that he drop the weapon. In an effort to avoid a confrontation, the officers
actually backed up approximately 2-3 houses away from the scene of the original call. At
some point, the subject turned away from the police and headed back to the residence
where the incident began.
The officers followed the subject back to the house because of concerns for the
persons who were inside. The subject had broken the front living room window of the
residence before the police arrived. Officers exited their police car again and the subject
began the same behavior. He was now yelling for the officers to shoot him. The officers
retreated to the safety of their police car and started backing up again. The officers were
still yelling over the public address system in the police car for the subject to drop the
weapon and get down on the ground. He continued his advancements on the police car.
Additional back-up officers arrived on the scene after these events had transpired.
The two back-up officers got out of their cars and also ordered the subject to drop his
weapon and get on the ground. The subject began charging the back-up officers in a
threatening manner while displaying the weapon. When he got within approximately 10
feet of the officers, they opened fire with their guns. They each fired several times,
striking the subject about the body until he fell to the ground. He expired on the scene.
Follow-up investigation revealed that the weapon in the subject’s hand was not a
knife, but instead, was a huge piece of glass from the broken living room window.
Friends and relatives of the subject confirmed that he had health problems for which he
took medications. A friend of the subject indicated that he had stopped taking his
medication and was not acting normally on the day in question. The subject had had a
conversation with his girlfriend during the early morning hours of February 8th wherein
he told her that he was an angel of God named Michael and that on March 24th something


very bad was going to happen in the world and he was going to be there to help. He had
also told his girlfriend that he was going to die.

The medical examiner’s office

discovered during their investigation that the subject suffered from bipolar disorder and
had been treated for that mental condition. Officers may have been able to use Tasers in
this instance to disable and disarm the subject. It would have avoided the use of deadly
force, protected the officers and civilians and saved the life of the subject.
Incident #2
On May 31, 2002, a detective with the City of Miami Springs Police Department
stopped by a convenience store to get a cup of coffee. As he was leaving the store, he
saw a disheveled-looking man in a hospital gown who appeared to be talking to himself.
The man was also carrying a metal pipe in his hand. The pipe measured twenty-two and
one half inches (22 ½) in length and one and one eighth inch (1-1/8) in diameter. The
detective decided to investigate. He drove across the street, exited his car and called out
to the man with the pipe. The subject turned and started walking toward the detective.
As he got closer, the subject charged at the detective. The detective started back pedaling
while trying to unholster his weapon and ordering the subject to stay back. The subject
kept charging and began beating the detective with the pipe. The beating caused the
detective to drop his gun. He bent down to retrieve his weapon while the subject
continued to beat him. The detective raised his arm to ward off the blows. After gaining
control of the weapon, the detective fired twice. The subject was struck in the left groin
area and in the lower left buttocks. Notwithstanding being shot twice, the subject
grabbed the detective’s weapon and they became engaged in a life-and-death struggle
over control of the gun.
One of the convenience store employees who knew the detective saw most of the
confrontation and began running toward the fracas when he heard the gunshots. The
detective was screaming for help at that point. The store clerk grabbed the subject in a
chokehold, kneed him in the ribs and tried to pull the subject away from the detective.
The subject steadfastly maintained his grip on the gun.
The store clerk then called out to another civilian he knew who happened to be
standing nearby. That civilian got involved and was able to wrestle the gun away.
Eventually, the subject weakened and the civilians were able to pull him off of the
detective. The subject survived the shooting. Officers who arrived at the scene moments
after the incident was over indicated that the detective was dazed, bleeding from the head,
looked pale and was not able to communicate. He could not hear out of his left ear and
thought he had been shot. The detective suffered blunt trauma to his head and a broken
Investigation by law enforcement officers revealed that on the day before this
incident, the subject had been taken to the Jackson Memorial Hospital Crisis Center by an
officer with the City of Miami Police Department. The City of Miami Officer had
responded to Camillus House because the subject was threatening people. Based on that

officer’s observations, he determined that the subject was suffering from mental
problems. Surprisingly, the subject was detained and transported without incident the
day before. We are uncertain as to what transpired that resulted in the subject walking
around on the streets the very next morning in a hospital gown.
The subject was charged with the attempted murder of the detective. Psychiatric
evaluations conducted after his arrest concluded that he was incompetent to stand trial.
Approximately two years later, his competency has been restored and his case was set for
Incident #3
On Tuesday, May 28, 2002 at approximately 7:00 p.m., a 66-year-old man
flagged down a Miami-Dade Police Department uniform patrol officer. He advised the
officer that an unknown male had become irate, begun swinging a knife and had attacked
him. The victim was placed in the police car and driven back to the scene (an apartment
complex) where he identified his assailant.
The officer called out to the subject for him to stop walking. The subject cursed
the officer and continued walking away. He pulled what appeared to be a knife from his
waistband. Upon seeing the knife, the officer called for back-up. Several officers
responded to the scene. The subject began yelling obscenities and profanity at the
officers, all of whom were ordering him to drop his weapon. The subject was
challenging the officers to shoot him as he waived his weapon in the air.
While facing the officers, he began backing away in an attempt to leave the area.
The subject then began stabbing himself repeatedly while stating he could kill all the
officers. In an attempt to disarm him, one officer pulled out his A.S.P. baton and tried to
flank the subject to knock the weapon out of his hand. The subject cut off the officer’s
approach and threatened him with the weapon. One of the officers described the subject
as acting “very, very crazy.” The group of officers followed the subject for more than
half a mile as he walked across a golf course near the apartment complex. The officers
were in a semi-circle formation as they followed the subject with their weapons drawn.
At some point, the subject stopped and confronted the officers again with more
name-calling and threats. The officers were able to determine at that point that the
subject had an ice pick. The subject lunged at the officers in front of him and three of the
officers fired, striking the subject in the chest, back and legs. He died on the scene. In
addition to numerous gunshot wounds, the subject had forty-one (41) puncture type
abrasions in the center of his chest area. A toxicology report revealed a blood alcohol
level of .20 % (more than three times the legal limit) and a drug alprazolam, popularly
known as Xanax. Many of the civilians who had contact with the subject on the day in
question indicated that he had been acting strangely.
Use of a Taser in this situation could have saved the life of this subject.


Incident #4
On October 16, 2001, Miami-Dade Police Department officers were dispatched to
an area in Northwest Miami-Dade. The call initially went out as an emergency
disturbance. It was later upgraded to an assault between two females. Upon their arrival,
the officers encountered an elderly woman (67 years old) in the front yard who indicated
she had been assaulted by her niece (the subject) who lived in the residence with her.
The subject’s ten year old son called 911 as a result of the fight between his mother and
great aunt. The aunt indicated to the officers that she wanted her niece removed from the
As officers approached the front porch, the subject was standing inside the
doorway with her hands behind her back. However, the subject came at her aunt with a
pair of scissors raised over her head and tried to stab her. The subject grabbed her aunt
by the throat, pinned her against the wall with one hand and attempted to stab her with
the scissors with the other. As the officers yelled for the subject to drop the scissors, the
aunt continued to struggle and dodge the subject’s continued efforts to stab her. When
the subject refused to drop the scissors, one of the officers fired twice, striking the subject
in the abdomen and the hip. She survived her injuries.
Subsequent investigation and discussion with the subject’s aunt revealed that the
subject had just been released from the JMH Crisis Center and transported to the aunt’s
residence. The subject had a history of hearing voices and engaging in violent behavior.
According to the aunt, the subject also abused drugs and alcohol. The subject admitted to
officers that she heard voices telling her to kill and further explained that she has been
hearing voices for years. She indicated that she never heard the officers telling her to
drop the scissors.
The circumstances of this case required the officer to use deadly force to protect
the aunt from death or serious bodily injury at the hands of her niece, the subject. This
was another situation where a Taser could have been used to stun and disarm the subject.
Incident #5
On February 9, 2002, at about 10:20 a.m. a truck driver in the vicinity of the
railroad tracks near 107th Avenue and Northwest 127th Street observed a bearded man
wearing several layers of clothing. The subject was carrying three foot long, 2” x 2”
board that he was swinging like a club. The board contained nails or spikes, which had
been driven into the board in several areas.


The witness called the police. Because of confusion over jurisdiction, officers
from both Hialeah Gardens and Miami-Dade County were dispatched to the scene. Upon
arrival, the officers got a description and determined that the subject had gone into an
overgrown, wooded area near the tracks. As they approached the area, the subject
emerged and started walking towards them, still armed with the spike-and-nail encrusted
board. The officers retreated and started walking backwards. They ordered the subject to
drop the club.
Two officers decided to use Mace in an effort to stop the subject from advancing.
The subject used a raincoat and jacket he had on to shield his face. Thus, the Mace was
not effective. After ordering him again to drop the club, the subject turned and began to
walk away. Officers followed at a distance. The subject walked behind a group of
boxcars on the track. Officers pursued the subject on both sides of the boxcars. He
continued to walk away in spite of commands to stop and drop to the club.
Eventually, the subject stopped, turned toward the officers and raised the club.
He charged at the officers with the club. One of the officers slipped on the gravel next to
the railroad tracks. As the subject got within 8 to 10 feet of the fallen officer, other
officers began to fire. The subject fell with the club in his hand. He died at the scene. A
homemade sheath and a long knife were in the subject’s waistband. The entire incident
lasted 20 – 30 minutes.
Investigation revealed that the subject was living in a couple of empty
construction culverts nearby. Sharpened knives, spears, homemade crossbows and Mace
were found in the subject’s “residence.” Several of the officers recalled during the
incident that the subject was shouting that he was God. Workers in the area indicated
that the subject had become a problem and that they had to shut down one of the rail lines
that day because the subject was blocking the path of the train.
Incident #6
During the early morning hours of June 6, 2001, a 55-year old man with a history
of mental illness was involved in an altercation at a cafeteria located near West Flagler
Street and 12th Avenue in the City of Miami. He left the scene. The manager of the
cafeteria flagged down two officers with the Miami Police Department (“MPD”) and
informed them that the man had threatened him with a knife. One of the uniformed
officers knew the subject from prior incidents and knew him to be a “Baker Act.” The
officers saw the subject as he was walking away from the cafeteria and tried to get him to
stop. He continued walking away while carrying an pen pocket knife with a 3 ¼ inch
blade. Repeated commands in English and Spanish were give to the subject to drop the
knife. He refused to do so. As a result, a call went out over the police radio advising
officers that there was a “man walking northbound on Northwest 12th Avenue swinging a
knife.” Others recall the dispatch as a “Baker Act with a knife.” A number of officers
responded to this “walking chase” which proceeded north from Flagler Street, across the
bridge to Northwest 12th Street.


As officers responded to the moving scene, a number of efforts were made to
disarm the subject and take him into custody. Officers tried boxing the subject in with
their patrol cars (he would roll over the top of their patrol cars), using pepper spray
approximately five times (it had no apparent effect), giving voice commands through the
public address system of the police cars (he continued to slash the knife at the officers,
the windshields and the cars themselves), walking parallel to the subject to box him in (he
continues walking with the knife), attempting to strike him with an A.S.P. baton to knock
the knife out of his hand (the subject realized what was happening, turned toward the
officer with the baton and made a stabbing motion with the knife), and attempting to pin
him against a fence with one of the patrol cars (he rolled off the bumper and lunged at the
driver’s side window).
By the time the subject got to northwest 12th Street, there were approximately ten
officers on foot, walking near and/or parallel to the subject, a number of police in marked
cars with lights flashing, who were shouting commands. At one point, the subject lunged
toward one of the officers who was walking near him. The officer fired repeatedly,
striking the subject numerous times and causing his death. At the time of the shooting,
there were more than fifteen officers in the vicinity, including a number of sergeants and
a lieutenant. Many of the officers who responded to the dispatch knew the subject and
knew that he “was a little bit crazy, wacko.”
A review of the subject’s background revealed a number of arrests for Aggravated
Assault on police officers, as well as resisting Arrest With Violence. He was usually sent
to a mental health program from the jail and at one point was found by the court to be
This last incident took an incredibly long time to come to its violent conclusion.
The time involved also included waiting for the 12th Avenue bridge to come down before
the subject could continue his northbound walk up 12th Avenue. Obviously, a Taser in
the hands of either one of these officers could have safely and effectively ended this
pursuit long before its tragic end. Predictably, officers recalled that the subject grew
more agitated as the “show of force” increased.
The failure to have effective police treatment plans in place in our community
contributed to the likelihood of this encounter. The failure to have a Crisis Intervention
Team member with a less-than-lethal weapon contributed to the death. We hope through
this Grand Jury Report that we have raised such an alarm that there will be no repeats of
the predictable, avoidable scenarios described herein.


Appendix C
Aventura Police Department Use of Force
April 1, 1997 to September 15, 2004
Total Use of Force Incidents – 131
Non-Taser -55
Non Taser Incidents
30% resulted in injuries to officers (17 officers injured)
45% resulted in injuries to offenders (25 offenders injured)
Taser Incidents
13% resulted in injuries to officers (10 officers injured) 41% decrease
13% resulted in injuries to offenders (10 offenders injured) 60% decrease

We strongly believe that under these circumstances, lives can be saved (and as
was reported to us, lives have been saved) as a result of having a “less than lethal
weapon” to use when the conflict is spiraling out of control or alternatively, becomes too
dangerous for the officer or other citizens.






Murder First Degree

True Bill


Murder First Degree

No True Bill


Murder First Degree
Firearm/Weapon/Possession by Convicted Felon/Delinquent
Aggravated Assault

True Bill

Murder First Degree (A&B)
Murder First Degree (A & B)
Murder First Degree / Attempt (A & B)
Firearm / Concealed Weapon / Possession
by Violent Career Criminal (A)
Firearm/Use, Display While Committing a Felony (A)
Firearm / Weapon / Possession by Convicted Felon (B)
Firearm/Use, Display While Committing a Felony (B)

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Firearm/Weapon/Posn by Convicted Felon/ Delinquent

True Bill

Murder First Degree

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Murder First Degree
Firearm/Possession by Convicted Felon
Firearm/Use, Display While Committing Felony

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Burglary / With Assault or Battery
Child Abuse / No Great Bodily Harm

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Arson First Degree

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Burglary / With Assault or Battery/Armed

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Murder First Degree
Robbery / Armed/ Firearm
Firearm / Possession by Convicted Felon (A only)
Firearm / Possession by Convicted Felon (B only)
Firearm / Possession by Convicted Felon (C only)

True Bill

also known as “DABO”, and


also known as “MIMI”









Murder First Degree
Arson First Degree
Stalking / Aggravated

True Bill



True Bill



Murder First Degree

Murder First Degree
Robbery / Carjacking / Armed

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Murder First Degree / Conspiracy

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Sexual Battery / Deadly Weapon or Serious Injury

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Murder First Degree
Murder / Premeditated / Attempt

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Deadly Missile/Shoot, Throw

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Arson First Degree
Burn to Defraud Insurer

True Bill

Murder First Degree

True Bill

Murder First Degree

True Bill

JOSEPH ALLEN MORGAN, also known as
“BULLET”, (A),
“THE KID” (B), and
Murder First Degree
Robbery / Armed / Weapon

True Bill









Murder First Degree
Firearm/Weapon/Posn by Convicted Felon/Delinquent

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Con Wea/Felon/Mask
Murder Second Degree/Felony

True Bill




COREY SMITH, also known as “BUBBA” (A),
LATRAVIS GALLASHAW, also known as ‘TRAV” (B),
ANTONIO GODFREY, also known as “GARHEAD” (C),
JULIUS STEVENS, also known as “JUDOG” (D),
Also known as “CRAZY E” (E),
JEAN HENRY, also known as ‘HAITIAN JEAN” (F),
EDDIE HARRIS, also known as “EDDIE BO” (G), and
CHAZRE DAVIS, also known as “CRIP” (H)
RICO/Conspiracy (A-H)
Racketeering/RICO (A-F)
Cannabis/Conspiracy to Traffick (A,B,C,D,E.F)
Cocaine/Conspiracy to Traffick (A,B,C,D,E.F)
Conspiracy to Commit First Degree Murder (A)
First Degree Murder (A)
First Degree Murder (A,C)
Murder/Premeditated /Attempt (C)
Conspiracy to Commit First Degree Murder (A,H)
First Degree Murder (A,H)
Conspiracy to Commit First Degree Murder (A,D,E,F)
First Degree Murder (A,D,E,F)
Murder Second Degree/Firearm (A,B)
First Degree Murder (B)
Conspiracy to Commit First Degree Murder (A,D,E,F,G)
First Degree Murder (A,D,E,F,G)
XVII. First Degree Murder/Solicit (B)


True Bill

Murder First Degree

True Bill

ALBERTO F. REAL, also known as
ALBERTO FALCON REAL, also known as
ALBERTO REAL, also known as
Murder First Degree
Firearm/Weapon/Possession by Convicted Felon/ Delinquent

True Bill




Murder Fist Degree
Attempted Felony Murder
Robbery/Armed/Firearm or Deadly Weapon
Firearm/Weapon/Posn by Convicted Felon/ Delinquent

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Child Abuse/Aggravated/Great Bodily Harm/Torture

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Deadly Missile/Shooting, Throwing
Firearm/Possession by Minor

True Bill





Murder First Degree
Attempted Felony Murder/Deadly Weapon
Attempted Felony Murder/Deadly Weapon
Assault/Aggravated/With a Firearm
Murder First Degree

True Bill

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Kidnapping / With a Weapon
Arson Second Degree
Firearm/Use, Display While Committing a Felony (“B” only)
Firearm/Possession by Convicted Felon (“B” only)

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Burglary/With Assault or Battery
Robbery/Strong Arm

True Bill

Murder First Degree

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Burglary/With Assault or Battery Armed

True Bill

Murder First Degree
Burglary/With Assault or Battery/Armed

True Bill






As the selected group for the Miami-Dade County Grand Jury for the Spring
Term of 2004, we would like to thank the Honorable Judge Judith L. Kreeger and MiamiDade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
We sincerely want to thank Chief Assistant State Attorney Don Horn, our legal
advisor, for his expert guidance and broad knowledge. He has personally inspired our
belief, educated and proctored us in the criminal justice system.
We also take this opportunity to thank Rose Anne Dare, Administrative Assistant,
and Nelido Gil, Bailiff, who graciously attended to the myriad of administrative details of
the Grand Jury.
Our Grand Jury’s term was filled with representatives from our multi-ethnic

Our six month term proved to be a most memorable and worthwhile

experience for all of us that were chosen to serve our community.
Respectfully submitted,

Jose A. Martinez, Foreperson
Miami-Dade County Grand Jury
Spring Term 2004

Lorraine Duarte

January 11, 2005