APD Looks North

On June 20, APD Chief Stan Knee said department officials will travel to Tennessee within the next two months to learn about the exemplary crisis intervention program run by the Memphis Police Dept. The announcement came during a noon press conference, held just one week after officers responding to a disturbance call in East Austin shot and killed 24-year-old Sophia King. The shooting of King, who reportedly suffered from schizophrenia, has sparked controversy over APD's handling of people with mental health problems.

Knee said the department will form a task force, made up of experts in the fields of health services and law enforcement, to advise the community on better management of mental health issues. Within the next two months, Knee said, APD reps will travel to Memphis to see how its police department handles similar problems. The MPD's crisis intervention team has been held up as a national model, and Knee hopes Austin can learn from their successes. "We want to make sure we're doing things as well as we can," he said.

Although the King situation was unfortunate for all involved, Knee reiterated, 16-year veteran Officer John Coffey handled the situation by the book. According to Knee, King threatened to stab a housing authority employee with a butcher knife outside her Rosewood Ave. home, Coffey shot her. Meanwhile, Knee said, several independent investigations into the shooting are under way, including an Internal Affairs investigation that should be ready by July 29, and a critical incident review scheduled for completion by Aug. 26. The case was forwarded to the grand jury June 24.

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