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Shoot To Kill: How Should Police Handle Mental Health?

The increase in incidents involving police killing and injuring people in the line of duty has raised concerns.

One recent case was the tasering of Clare Nowland, a 95-year-old great-grandmother, who tragically lost her life after police tasered her at an aged care facility. 

Ms Nowland is not the only victim here. Leesa Topic, is the grieving mother of 22-year-old Clare Topic who was fatally shot by NSW Police outside a Hungry Jacks in 2015.

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On today’s episode of The Briefing, Ms Topic shares her personal stories and fears about the increasing incidents of police-related violence. Terry Goldsworthy, an Associate Professor in Criminology at Bond University, also joins us to explain what is happening within the Australian police force. 

It was an ordinary day for Ms Topic and her family. Everyone went to work while Courtney was home having finished a shift at Woolworths the night before.

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But that afternoon, a call came through alerting police to a young woman armed with a kitchen knife outside a Hungry Jacks in Hoxton Park.

Courtney was suffering from serious undiagnosed mental health issues. Tragically, a police officer shot her dead within 41 seconds of arriving at the scene.

Mental health is not a crime. Dementia is not a crime, yet these people are dying as though they were common criminals at the hands of those supposed to help.”

Mr Goldsworthu says the mental health issue has grown exponentially, especially among the young generation.

All of those use of force reports are examined by local committees. The police would look at the use of force and make sure it was appropriate so that do capture the data internally,”

he said.

What we don’t see is that data being made available publicly. Perhaps the police services could consider opening up the use of force reporting and making that more appropriate.”