BALTIMORE (WJZ)--The Baltimore Police Department is hoping to tackle a serious problem with help from someone who makes people laugh, actor and comedian Guy Richards.
A scathing Department of Justice Report of how Baltimore Police routinely engaged in discriminatory practices, also revealed another problem: some officers ended in violent confrontations with the mentally ill that could have been avoided.
“Too many times we see instances where officers engage with individuals suffering from behavioral health issues, it becomes a deadly force situation and we want to avoid that at all costs,” said Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere, with the Baltimore Police Department.
The department is getting help from an unexpected ally, actor and comedian Guy Richards.
“I used to punch through walls, and run through walls and be totally out of bounce and hate my parents,” said Richards.
The comedian was in tears while revealing for the first time in public, that he suffers from bi-polar disorder.
He’s now teaming up the crime-fighting organization, Guardian Angels and BPD, lending his star-power to raise awareness and speaking at the police academy about mental illness.
The department will train its officers on how to identify and interact with people with mental illness and how to deescalate tense situations without the use of deadly force.
“We’re looking to do things innovative to address each and every legitimate criticism in that report and sometimes we’ll be as creative as we can to get to that better place,” said Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.
Davis tells WJZ, officers interact with people suffering from mental illness every single day which is why he’s making this training a priority.
Guy Richards is encouraging those who suffer from mental illness, or know someone who does to seek medical help.