MILO Community Outreach
The MILO Cognitive division designs and facilitates opportunities for agencies to bridge gaps with communities and nonprofits in their areas, to address challenges facing our industry, and assist with their social purpose efforts. Agencies often miss out on opportunities to connect with their communities in positive and meaningful ways, and MILO is here to help.
As law enforcement all over this country grapples with police-community relations, San Antonio provides one successful model of how to improve these important relationships and increase outcomes for those with mental health challenges who come into contact with law enforcement. Founded in 2008, the San Antonio Police Department’s Mental Health Unit, as seen in the Emmy award-winning HBO documentary film ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS, works with their local fire department, EMS, the city’s behavioral health department, social services, hospitals, and treatment centers to bridge the gaps where people can fall through the cracks in the system.
The film follows Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro, two police officers in the San Antonio Police Department’s Mental Health Unit, as they divert people away from jail and into mental health treatment, humanely and non-violently – one 911 call at a time. In the process, Ernie and Joe and their colleagues are redefining policing and its mandate to “keep people safe,” while providing a model of how to transform the ways law enforcement across the U.S. approaches and helps those who suffer from mental illness.
ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS shows how the police culture of the SAPD has changed since the creation of the Mental Health Unit, leading to an understanding that force is not always best and that a more empathetic approach can achieve better results. In addition to bringing dignity to the issue of mental health challenges, this film helps put a spotlight on the culture of policing by taking a clear-eyed look at how we train and support officers. In the first 5 years of the program, use of force by police declined from 50/year to 3/year, and since its inception, more than 20,000 people with serious mental illness have been identified and diverted from jail into treatment. Bexar County’s improvements in responding to people in crisis have also led to significant savings by reducing incarceration and emergency room use.
The film, directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker Jenifer McShane, won the Special Jury Prize at the South By Southwest Film Festival and screened in theaters and on HBO at the end of 2019. The full 95-minute version, or a shorter 25-minute version, are both currently being used by law enforcement and public safety agencies, mayors, attorneys general and other city officials, health care workers, and NAMI chapters and other behavioral health organizations across the country to spark conversation and dialogue about the culture of policing, training, and how police departments can be better prepared to respond non-violently to people in crisis.
MILO is proud to assist with the coordination and/or facilitation of screenings of ERNIE & JOE with the option of a panel discussion with Joe Smarro. Can be virtual, or in person.
Please use the SPECIAL CODE: EJCC-MILO when registering
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