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Mass. Store Owners 'Still Happy' After Major Lottery Mix-Up

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The Massachusetts State Lottery made a major correction Thursday morning after announcing the wrong location for the sale of the winning $758.7 million Powerball ticket.

It was initially announced that the winning ticket was sold at Handy Variety in Watertown. But, it was actually sold at Pride Station & Store in Chicopee.

The Watertown store, along with Sandy's Variety in Dorchester, did sell a $1 million wining ticket.

The family that owns the Watertown variety store said they were overjoyed by the news before the correction was made. Now, they are disappointed by the fact that their store didn’t sell the major jackpot, but are taking it in stride.

“Still happy, but what can we do.” said Marjeet Paaur Khan, a store owner.

They will still receive $10,000 for selling a $1 million winning ticket.



Photo Credit: NECN

Suspect at Large After Police Chase in New Haven

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Police chased a man who displayed a rifle at a Mobil gas station in New Haven Thursday morning, but lost him after the vehicle he was in crashed and the man fled, according to police. 

Police said they found a rifle and believe they know who they are looking for, but they have not found a suspect. 

No additional information was available.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Winning Powerball Ticket Sold in Chicopee

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The winning ticket to the second-largest Powerball jackpot in history was sold over the state line in Massachusetts, but there were some big winners here in Connecticut as well.

One ticket is worth $2 million and one is worth $1 million after the winners matched five numbers, not including the Powerball. One winner had a Power Play.

The winning numbers are: 6-7-16-23-26 and the Powerball is 4 and the only winning ticket, worth $758.7 million, was sold at Pride Station & Store in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

Three tickets sold in Connecticut are worth $200,000 and five are worth $50,000 after the winners matched four numbers and the Powerball. The $200,000 winners had Power Play.

In all, there were 128,728 winners in Connecticut.

Editor's Note: Officials originally said the winning Powerball ticket was sold in Watertown, Mass., but now say it was sold in Chicopee, Mass.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

25 Years Ago, Hurricane Andrew Leveled This Miami Suburb

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Twenty-five years ago Thursday, the city of Homestead was in the eye of a Category 5 storm — the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale — that unleashed its wrath on South Florida on Aug. 24, 1992.

Hurricane Andrew’s 175-mile-per-hour wind gusts leveled Homestead, destroyed much of South Florida’s infrastructure system and left tens of thousands homeless.

As an estimated 1 million fled north from South Florida, Jeff Blakely, a historian at the downtown Homestead Town Hall Museum, decided to stay behind. The afternoon before the storm hit, Blakely said the skies were a beautiful shade of blue and "green lush greenery" covered the landscape.

"The next morning it was all gone," he said.

Homer Knowles was a pilot for Pan American World Airways in 1992. The Homestead resident said the airlines encouraged all of its employees to evacuate the suburb, located about 30 miles south of Miami.

"My sister lived in Miami so I went up and stayed with her and weathered out the storm there," Knowles told NBC6. "It was a little breezy, to say the least, but it was nothing like what was going on down here."

"I couldn't find my street, where my house was, that was the first thing. Then, when I did find it, I thought I'd made a mistake. I thought that can't be my house, but it was," Knowles recalled.

Blakley said as he traversed his neighborhood, residents looked like "walking zombies” and all anyone could say was “Oh, my God.”

"You could not get gas. There was no power anywhere in Dade County. There were no traffic lights. There were no street signs. There were no landmarks," Blakely said.

"You didn't have air conditioning, you didn't have refrigeration, you didn't have water," Jensen added.

Hurricane Andrew was the most destructive hurricane in Florida history and the costliest in U.S. history until Katrina in 2005, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Like much of the surrounding communities, Homestead Air Force Base was also ravaged by the full fury of Andrew. Once considered a "jewel" of the Air Force, according to former Homestead Mayor Tad DeMilly, Homestead Air Force Base became a ghost town.

"The base was so badly damaged that rebuilding it was almost out of the question,” said Bob Jensen, president of the Town Hall Museum.

The base was partially rebuilt and is now home to the Homestead Air Reserve.

In the days after the storm, federal and local response was slowed by bureaucratic snarls. Neither President George H.W. Bush nor the Federal Emergency Management Agency ordered a large-scale response until four days later, The New York Times reported at the time.

"We were totally ignored for about four days. Nobody came to our help, nobody brought water, there was no military, there was no police or anything. It was just wild," Knowles said.

Officials at various federal agencies told the Times that “there was a breakdown in communication and coordination at top levels of government.”

"After the military finally got in and they started patrolling, we had a lot of help from the police and what not," Knowles said. "They finally got people coming down with water and some supplies for the people, like ice and things like that, it got a lot better."

It was years before people began returning to Homestead and nearly two decades for the city to fully bounce back. When the hurricane hit, Homestead was home to 25,000 people. Today, the city has tripled its population, nearing 75,000 residents.

"Probably didn't start coming back until maybe 2000 because it was such a blow. The infrastructure was gone. It just took a long, long time," Blakely said.



Photo Credit: www.jupiterimages.com/ Getty Images

Man Arrested in Clown Mask, Wielding Machete Says it Was a ‘Prank’

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The one-armed Maine man accused of threatening his neighbors by dressing up as a clown and duct taping a machete to his amputated arm entered not guilty pleas for criminal threatening and weapons charges Wednesday.

Corey Berry, 31, of Hollis, called the situation "terrible," and said that he only meant to pull "a prank."

Police say he was intoxicated when they arrested him last month. Witnesses reported him walking down the streets of Hollis and Waterboro, wielding the knife and walking near homes.

"It’s actually kind of scary," said Wayne Strout Jr., who lives near Berry in Hollis. His two teenage children were home at the time, and sent him photos and videos of the creepy clown walking by their home.

"I saw him walking down the road with a knife," said Strout’s stepson, Mark Bureau.

That’s when Strout told his children to lock the doors, while he called police.

"I told the trooper to get there before I do, because this isn’t funny," Strout said.

Berry was charged with criminal threatening, and threatening display of a weapon. The neighbors he scared said they don’t believe misdemeanor charges are serious enough.

"I don’t think the criminal threatening is enough, it wasn’t a joke," said Strout.



Photo Credit: AP

Connecticut Town Leaders Rally Against Budget Cuts

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As the state continues to run without a budget, the news for towns and cities is grim as hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line. 

On Wednesday, town leaders from Glastonbury, Ellington, Tolland and Newington gathered in South Windsor to rally against the cuts. 

"I assure you that we are united in our commitment to education and in our frustration and dismay over the governor's executive order," South Windsor Mayor Carolyn Mirek said. 

Gov. Dannel Malloy has been running the state through executive order since lawmakers failed to pass a budget nearly two months ago. Last week he proposed eliminating all education cost-sharing grants, known as ECS, from 85 school systems and significantly reducing it for 54 others. 

"It's devastating. It's the entire $12 million gone," said South Windsor Board of Education member Rick Stahr. 

Stahr said they thought they prepared for the worst but the numbers they're seeing from the governor are far more extreme. 

"Our worst-case scenario was $3, maybe $4 million, and that's where we were hoping to keep it, somewhere around that. But now we're looking at three times that," Stahr said. "What is the impact? I don't know, but it's going to be very deep." 

"Very frustrated when you see the millions of dollars not being provided to our town. It's just unbelievable," said Catherine Stahr, whose son will attend South Windsor High when school starts back up next week. 

She said the uncertainty is affecting students and staff. 

"At least if we know what we're dealing with, we can deal with it, but not knowing what the budget is going to be, the ECS funding is going to be, just leaves everybody in limbo," said Catherine Stahr. 

"The fact is we do not have a true education cost sharing formula that is fully funded or used the way it should be used here in Connecticut," said State Rep. Jeff Currey, (D-East Hartford, Manchester and South Windsor). 

Currey was one of the several lawmakers who attended Wednesday's rally and said the House Democrats’ latest budget proposal was done as a bipartisan effort. 

With Republicans expected to come out with a revised budget, the hope is that the end is in sight. 

"If we can put the two of them together, we will have a good budget," said Rep Sam Belsito (R-Ashford, Tolland and Willington). 

No vote is expected at the Capitol until the week of Sept. 11.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Unions Join Forces to Rally for Mental Health Reform

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Deborah Danner coped with schizophrenia for more than three decades, describing it as a "curse" and a "nightmare" whose only "saving grace" was that it was not fatal. But she knew that an encounter with police could change everything.

"We are all aware of the all too frequent news stories about the mentally ill who come up against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals and end up dead," Danner wrote in a 2012 essay, "Living With Schizophrenia."

Last year, on Oct. 18, police arrived at her apartment after her neighbors — not for the first time — called 911 about a "disturbance" in the Bronx building. Sgt. Hugh Barry of the New York Police Department convinced the 66-year-old Danner to put down the scissors she'd been wielding but when she lunged at him with a baseball bat, he fatally shot her, according to police accounts.

"She was not a monster," said Wallace Cooke Jr., Danner's cousin and a retired New York police officer. "She was mentally ill."

How police respond to persons with mental illness is an issue that law enforcement agencies have grappled with for decades.

"Police are the front responders to people in crisis," said Ron Honberg, senior policy advisor at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "Why are so many people reaching this point? What can we do to reduce the burdens on police, and what can we do to prepare police to respond to these situations?"

PUSH FOR POLICIES
Police unions from around the country came together in June to try to improve officers' responses. They call their effort Compassionate and Accountable Responses for Everyone, and are focused on implementing mental health policies laid out in the 21st Century Cures Act, signed by former President Barack Obama in December. 

The law includes changes to federal mental health policies regarding law enforcement training, coordination among multidisciplinary response teams and clarification of the medical privacy law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects the information of patients.

Police officials would like to remove obstacles to retrieving that information on medical history, such as a record of past contact with the mental health system. The law calls for a review of HIPAA to eliminate ambiguity in what information can be shared.

The 21st Century Cures Act authorizes the Department of Justice to appropriate $50 million each fiscal year from 2017 to 2021 to cover the large number of reforms included in the section of the law regarding mental illness. 

"The vehicle is there, but it needs to be funded," said John George, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Oklahoma City, where calls for mental health crises have increased by 88 percent in the past four years. "This is a crisis."

The coalition of organizations includes unions from Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Oklahoma City and Omaha. At its inception, it also included organizations from New York and Chicago, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The police efforts come against a backdrop of an under-resourced mental health system and the absence of quality, consistent care.

"I don’t think there's enough resources provided for mental health throughout this country," Cooke Jr. said. "Debbie was confused and had her issues, but she still was a very intelligent young woman … and didn’t have to die in her bedroom."

About 43.4 million adult Americans live with mental illness, 9.8 million of them with a severe illness. For those Americans whose serious illness goes untreated, an encounter with law enforcement is 16 times more likely to be fatal than for other civilians, according to a 2015 Treatment Advocacy Center study.

"The real story is the failure of the mental health system," said Louis Dekmar, the incoming president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. "There's just not a large political constituency for the mentally ill, unless law enforcement or family members advocate."

The national attention to the opioid epidemic could spur some improvement. As studies emerge that overdose death numbers are higher than previously thought, President Donald Trump has declared the crisis a national emergency.

"A lot of times, if you read profiles of people who overdosed on opioids … there's an underlying mental illness," Honberg said.

EDUCATION IN DE-ESCALATION
Funds provided by the 21st Century Cures Act would allow police departments to send more officers to receive training in mental illness — and enable them to pay overtime to other officers to cover their shifts. According to Rebecca Skillern, an officer in the Houston Police Department's mental health division, just 12 crisis intervention response teams are available for the city's population of 2.3 million.

"We're terribly understaffed," Skillern said. "While we do try to provide the training to as many personnel as possible, we constantly have officers asking for more units."

Training to deal with these types of crises differs from traditional police protocol, according to Amy Watson, a professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"Standard police training is to come into a situation and take control, gain compliance very quickly and resolve it. That doesn't necessarily work when you're responding to someone who's in crisis," Watson said. "If they're really agitated, they're not processing police officers' commands as quickly as officers want them to … and may be very frightened."

In the case of Deborah Danner, Barry, an eight-year veteran, was charged with second-degree murder in May. He has pleaded not guilty.

Danner herself addressed the importance of the issue of training, writing that "teaching law enforcement how to deal with the mentally ill in crisis," was a "very serious problem" that warranted attention.

Though the 21st Century Cures Act just became law last year, some law enforcement and mental health professionals recognized the need for improved training in the late 1980's and established a model with a lasting influence.

Crisis Intervention Team International, an organization that began in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1988, developed a 40-hour course that incorporates expertise from mental health professionals and law enforcement. It works to build empathy for persons with mental illness and to prepare police officers with real-life scenarios, according to Michael Woody, president of CIT International.

"When the officers leave, they seem to have the confidence to handle these mental health calls more compassionately," Woody said.

In Woody's home state of Ohio, 65 percent of law enforcement agencies have officers who have received CIT training.

"They're able to recognize [mental illness], and they have learned communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal, to engage the person more effectively … accessible body language, speaking in lower volume, lower pace, being a little more patient, knowing how to not confirm false beliefs but be respectful," said Mark Munetz, chair of psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University.

A situation that could have escalated and become dangerous is instead defused into someone willing to go for help, he said.

As CARE calls for an increase in CIT and similar training across the country, some officials caution against shifting from voluntary to mandatory training without considering individual officers' passion for handling crises.

Julie Solomon, the chief administration officer at CIT International, believes that states and communities moving to require CIT training for all officers should build a voluntary component, where officers who are passionate about responding to crisis calls would receive advanced training.

“As a parent, the last thing I want is someone who was just forced to go through the 40-hour training to be the one to respond,” Solomon said.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police called for greater attention to the issue in 2016. The One Mind campaign asks agencies to sign a pledge that commits departments to train 100 percent of officers and selected staff, such as dispatchers, in mental-health first aid and 20 percent of officers in CIT training.

By the 2017 follow-up, 139 out of about 18,000 agencies had signed the pledge.

Dekmar cites a widespread lack of funding as a reason for the underwhelming pledge numbers, but believes improving marketing efforts through partnerships with mental health organizations could improve results.

"We expected that there would be more," Dekmar said. "Everywhere that we go, this is an interest."

ALL HANDS ON DECK
The 21st Century Cures Act also calls for a report to Congress on the progression of coordination efforts between law enforcement and relevant agencies, such as behavioral health providers.

"We have to be able to talk to each other … and have a mutual sense of compassion. Law enforcement is asked to be the first responders to a medical crisis," said Charles Lennon, a program manager who oversees joint efforts between the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Experts say that police often do not have sufficient options once they have de-escalated a situation besides arrest or an emergency room visit, so the individual involved may not have the opportunity to receive further mental health support.

"We need to have other options at that point of contact with police," Watson said. "A crisis isn’t a crime."

The mental health crisis in the U.S. can in part be traced to a broad movement in the mid-20th century referred to as "deinstitutionalization." The introduction of the first antipsychotic drugs in 1955 and the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid under former President Lyndon B. Johnson precipitated the widespread closures of mental health hospitals. Individuals receiving inpatient care were left lacking clear support systems in their communities, contributing to more encounters with law enforcement.

"The jails and prisons have become the mental health hospitals," said Kathy Forward, executive director at the National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter in Santa Clara County.

Sgt. Paul Kelly, president of the San Jose Police Officers' Association in California, recognized the need for action after six people with mental illness were shot by city police officers this year, including 35-year-old Francis De La Cruz. Police officers took non-lethal measures to diffuse the situation before fatally shooting De La Cruz, who had picked up an axe and pointed it at the officers on the scene. De La Cruz had previously spent time in mental health institutions.

"When we realized what was going on across the nation, we needed to do something … not only on a local level, but a national level," Kelly said. "But it can't just be police unions knocking on D.C.'s door … I think you're going to have the local elected leaders hold hands on this."

After Danner’s death, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD police Commissioner James O'Neill condemned the shooting.

"Something went horribly wrong here," de Blasio said immediately afterward. "It's quite clear our officers are supposed to use deadly force only when faced with a dire situation and it's very hard for any of us to see that that standard was met here."

"Deborah Danner should be alive right now, period," de Blasio added. "If the protocols had been followed, she would be alive. It's as simple as that."

Presidents of the five unions involved with CARE recently attended a press conference in New York in July, joining other union officials in protesting Barry’s indictment.

"The scapegoating of police officers for the failing mental health system ends today," Jamie McBride, director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said at the press conference.

The "accountable" in Compassionate and Accountable Responses for Everyone refers to responsibility across the board, not just for police officers but also the support systems of the persons with mental illness.

The unions plan to launch public service announcements intended to show what goes through the minds of police officers and the protocol they follow when, for example, they pull a driver over.

The police efforts follow years of outcry —and accusations of racial discrimination — over the deaths of unarmed black men shot by officers. Often the officers were not charged in the deaths or if they were, they were acquitted after trials.

The Washington Post reported 643 police shooting deaths this year. Mental illness played a role in a quarter of the shootings, according to the Post.

In the case of mental illness, police officers say they are particularly frustrated with the public's lack of understanding of the difficulties they face when they respond to crises and they want their side of the story known. They say they will hold politicians accountable if they over-politicize police encounters.

"These encounters are being filmed, [with] more and more tragic outcomes," Honberg said. "All of that has escalated the visibility of these situations. What happens is that the police get blasted ... and sometimes it's justified and sometimes it may not be as cut and dry."

Union officials say that they plan to lobby local city officials and congressional delegations to implement and fund the 21st Century Cures Act policies.

"When the mental health system is not funded properly, it's a danger to the citizens, puts a strain on law enforcement and it hurts the quality of life in any environment, any city," George said.

One sign of progress was the Senate confirmation earlier this month of psychiatrist Elinore McCance-Katz to a position created as part of the legislation, an assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders. 

John Snooks, executive director at the Treatment Advocacy Center, believes police unions' support can only help.

"If you can have law enforcement making the case for implementing the programs … that's going to be really powerful ... and changes the conversation for the public," Snooks said. "And lawmakers always listen to law enforcement because they're the ones on the ground."



Photo Credit: Gregg Vigliotti/AP

Trump 'Serious' About Government Shutdown Threat: Official

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With the deadline to continue funding the federal government just over a month away, the White House isn't shutting down chatter that the government may shut down, NBC News reported.

President Donald Trump is "serious" about his threat to do so, a senior administration official told NBC News Thursday, escalating Trump's words from a rally Tuesday.

"If we have to close down our government, we're building that wall," Trump said a rally in Phoenix, winning cheers of "Build the Wall!"

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have pushed back on the need for a shutdown, which may be calamitous for the market. But Trump attacked them both by name Thursday morning over how they plan to pass the debt ceiling, another funding hurdle the government faces in the next several weeks.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

Police Unions Join Forces to Rally for Mental Health Reform

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0

Deborah Danner coped with schizophrenia for more than three decades, describing it as a "curse" and a "nightmare" whose only "saving grace" was that it was not fatal. But she knew that an encounter with police could change everything.

"We are all aware of the all too frequent news stories about the mentally ill who come up against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals and end up dead," Danner wrote in a 2012 essay, "Living With Schizophrenia."

Last year, on Oct. 18, police arrived at her apartment after her neighbors — not for the first time — called 911 about a "disturbance" in the Bronx building. Sgt. Hugh Barry of the New York Police Department convinced the 66-year-old Danner to put down the scissors she'd been wielding but when she lunged at him with a baseball bat, he fatally shot her, according to police accounts.

"She was not a monster," said Wallace Cooke Jr., Danner's cousin and a retired New York police officer. "She was mentally ill."

How police respond to persons with mental illness is an issue that law enforcement agencies have grappled with for decades.

"Police are the front responders to people in crisis," said Ron Honberg, senior policy advisor at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "Why are so many people reaching this point? What can we do to reduce the burdens on police, and what can we do to prepare police to respond to these situations?"

PUSH FOR POLICIES
Police unions from around the country came together in June to try to improve officers' responses. They call their effort Compassionate and Accountable Responses for Everyone, and are focused on implementing mental health policies laid out in the 21st Century Cures Act, signed by former President Barack Obama in December. 

The law includes changes to federal mental health policies regarding law enforcement training, coordination among multidisciplinary response teams and clarification of the medical privacy law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects the information of patients.

Police officials would like to remove obstacles to retrieving that information on medical history, such as a record of past contact with the mental health system. The law calls for a review of HIPAA to eliminate ambiguity in what information can be shared.

The 21st Century Cures Act authorizes the Department of Justice to appropriate $50 million each fiscal year from 2017 to 2021 to cover the large number of reforms included in the section of the law regarding mental illness. 

"The vehicle is there, but it needs to be funded," said John George, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Oklahoma City, where calls for mental health crises have increased by 88 percent in the past four years. "This is a crisis."

The coalition of organizations includes unions from Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Oklahoma City and Omaha. At its inception, it also included organizations from New York and Chicago, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The police efforts come against a backdrop of an under-resourced mental health system and the absence of quality, consistent care.

"I don’t think there's enough resources provided for mental health throughout this country," Cooke Jr. said. "Debbie was confused and had her issues, but she still was a very intelligent young woman … and didn’t have to die in her bedroom."

About 43.4 million adult Americans live with mental illness, 9.8 million of them with a severe illness. For those Americans whose serious illness goes untreated, an encounter with law enforcement is 16 times more likely to be fatal than for other civilians, according to a 2015 Treatment Advocacy Center study.

"The real story is the failure of the mental health system," said Louis Dekmar, the incoming president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. "There's just not a large political constituency for the mentally ill, unless law enforcement or family members advocate."

The national attention to the opioid epidemic could spur some improvement. As studies emerge that overdose death numbers are higher than previously thought, President Donald Trump has declared the crisis a national emergency.

"A lot of times, if you read profiles of people who overdosed on opioids … there's an underlying mental illness," Honberg said.

EDUCATION IN DE-ESCALATION
Funds provided by the 21st Century Cures Act would allow police departments to send more officers to receive training in mental illness — and enable them to pay overtime to other officers to cover their shifts. According to Rebecca Skillern, an officer in the Houston Police Department's mental health division, just 12 crisis intervention response teams are available for the city's population of 2.3 million.

"We're terribly understaffed," Skillern said. "While we do try to provide the training to as many personnel as possible, we constantly have officers asking for more units."

Training to deal with these types of crises differs from traditional police protocol, according to Amy Watson, a professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"Standard police training is to come into a situation and take control, gain compliance very quickly and resolve it. That doesn't necessarily work when you're responding to someone who's in crisis," Watson said. "If they're really agitated, they're not processing police officers' commands as quickly as officers want them to … and may be very frightened."

In the case of Deborah Danner, Barry, an eight-year veteran, was charged with second-degree murder in May. He has pleaded not guilty.

Danner herself addressed the importance of the issue of training, writing that "teaching law enforcement how to deal with the mentally ill in crisis," was a "very serious problem" that warranted attention.

Though the 21st Century Cures Act just became law last year, some law enforcement and mental health professionals recognized the need for improved training in the late 1980's and established a model with a lasting influence.

Crisis Intervention Team International, an organization that began in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1988, developed a 40-hour course that incorporates expertise from mental health professionals and law enforcement. It works to build empathy for persons with mental illness and to prepare police officers with real-life scenarios, according to Michael Woody, president of CIT International.

"When the officers leave, they seem to have the confidence to handle these mental health calls more compassionately," Woody said.

In Woody's home state of Ohio, 65 percent of law enforcement agencies have officers who have received CIT training.

"They're able to recognize [mental illness], and they have learned communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal, to engage the person more effectively … accessible body language, speaking in lower volume, lower pace, being a little more patient, knowing how to not confirm false beliefs but be respectful," said Mark Munetz, chair of psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University.

A situation that could have escalated and become dangerous is instead defused into someone willing to go for help, he said.

As CARE calls for an increase in CIT and similar training across the country, some officials caution against shifting from voluntary to mandatory training without considering individual officers' passion for handling crises.

Julie Solomon, the chief administration officer at CIT International, believes that states and communities moving to require CIT training for all officers should build a voluntary component, where officers who are passionate about responding to crisis calls would receive advanced training.

“As a parent, the last thing I want is someone who was just forced to go through the 40-hour training to be the one to respond,” Solomon said.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police called for greater attention to the issue in 2016. The One Mind campaign asks agencies to sign a pledge that commits departments to train 100 percent of officers and selected staff, such as dispatchers, in mental-health first aid and 20 percent of officers in CIT training.

By the 2017 follow-up, 139 out of about 18,000 agencies had signed the pledge.

Dekmar cites a widespread lack of funding as a reason for the underwhelming pledge numbers, but believes improving marketing efforts through partnerships with mental health organizations could improve results.

"We expected that there would be more," Dekmar said. "Everywhere that we go, this is an interest."

ALL HANDS ON DECK
The 21st Century Cures Act also calls for a report to Congress on the progression of coordination efforts between law enforcement and relevant agencies, such as behavioral health providers.

"We have to be able to talk to each other … and have a mutual sense of compassion. Law enforcement is asked to be the first responders to a medical crisis," said Charles Lennon, a program manager who oversees joint efforts between the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Experts say that police often do not have sufficient options once they have de-escalated a situation besides arrest or an emergency room visit, so the individual involved may not have the opportunity to receive further mental health support.

"We need to have other options at that point of contact with police," Watson said. "A crisis isn’t a crime."

The mental health crisis in the U.S. can in part be traced to a broad movement in the mid-20th century referred to as "deinstitutionalization." The introduction of the first antipsychotic drugs in 1955 and the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid under former President Lyndon B. Johnson precipitated the widespread closures of mental health hospitals. Individuals receiving inpatient care were left lacking clear support systems in their communities, contributing to more encounters with law enforcement.

"The jails and prisons have become the mental health hospitals," said Kathy Forward, executive director at the National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter in Santa Clara County.

Sgt. Paul Kelly, president of the San Jose Police Officers' Association in California, recognized the need for action after six people with mental illness were shot by city police officers this year, including 35-year-old Francis De La Cruz. Police officers took non-lethal measures to diffuse the situation before fatally shooting De La Cruz, who had picked up an axe and pointed it at the officers on the scene. De La Cruz had previously spent time in mental health institutions.

"When we realized what was going on across the nation, we needed to do something … not only on a local level, but a national level," Kelly said. "But it can't just be police unions knocking on D.C.'s door … I think you're going to have the local elected leaders hold hands on this."

After Danner’s death, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD police Commissioner James O'Neill condemned the shooting.

"Something went horribly wrong here," de Blasio said immediately afterward. "It's quite clear our officers are supposed to use deadly force only when faced with a dire situation and it's very hard for any of us to see that that standard was met here."

"Deborah Danner should be alive right now, period," de Blasio added. "If the protocols had been followed, she would be alive. It's as simple as that."

Presidents of the five unions involved with CARE recently attended a press conference in New York in July, joining other union officials in protesting Barry’s indictment.

"The scapegoating of police officers for the failing mental health system ends today," Jamie McBride, director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said at the press conference.

The "accountable" in Compassionate and Accountable Responses for Everyone refers to responsibility across the board, not just for police officers but also the support systems of the persons with mental illness.

The unions plan to launch public service announcements intended to show what goes through the minds of police officers and the protocol they follow when, for example, they pull a driver over.

The police efforts follow years of outcry —and accusations of racial discrimination — over the deaths of unarmed black men shot by officers. Often the officers were not charged in the deaths or if they were, they were acquitted after trials.

The Washington Post reported 643 police shooting deaths this year. Mental illness played a role in a quarter of the shootings, according to the Post.

In the case of mental illness, police officers say they are particularly frustrated with the public's lack of understanding of the difficulties they face when they respond to crises and they want their side of the story known. They say they will hold politicians accountable if they over-politicize police encounters.

"These encounters are being filmed, [with] more and more tragic outcomes," Honberg said. "All of that has escalated the visibility of these situations. What happens is that the police get blasted ... and sometimes it's justified and sometimes it may not be as cut and dry."

Union officials say that they plan to lobby local city officials and congressional delegations to implement and fund the 21st Century Cures Act policies.

"When the mental health system is not funded properly, it's a danger to the citizens, puts a strain on law enforcement and it hurts the quality of life in any environment, any city," George said.

One sign of progress was the Senate confirmation earlier this month of psychiatrist Elinore McCance-Katz to a position created as part of the legislation, an assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders. 

John Snooks, executive director at the Treatment Advocacy Center, believes police unions' support can only help.

"If you can have law enforcement making the case for implementing the programs … that's going to be really powerful ... and changes the conversation for the public," Snooks said. "And lawmakers always listen to law enforcement because they're the ones on the ground."



Photo Credit: Gregg Vigliotti/AP

Southbury Kmart to Close

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The Kmart in Southbury will soon close its doors as a part of Sears Holdings’ move to close 28 Kmarts nationwide.

This leaves only three Kmarts open in Connecticut, located in Milford, Vernon, and Watertown.

The closings will occur in mid-November, although liquidation sales will begin as early as August 31 at the affected locations, according to the company.

Kmart reports that the stores are closing as the company continues to update and transform their business model, physical appearance, and digital capabilities.

Employees of the closing stores will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at all other Kmart and Sears stores in the area.



Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Man Shot in Head in Bridgeport, Police Investigating Homicide

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Bridgeport police are investigating a homicide after a man in his 30s was shot in the head and died today.

Officials said the man was shot on 6th Street, between Stratford and Connecticut avenues.

Officers are at the scene investigating this as a homicide.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Report Active Shooter in Charleston, SC

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Police in Charleston, South Carolina, reported an active shooter situation on King Street in the historic district of the city Thursday afternoon. 

"King btwn Calhoun & Morris blocked to motorist & pedestrian traffic active shooter in 400 block of King people to avoid the area," the Charleston police tweeted.

Please refresh this page for updates to this breaking story. 



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Bruce Smith
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Who Is the 'American' Boy in New ISIS Propaganda Video?

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A young boy claiming to be the American son of a U.S. soldier loads an assault rifle and threatens the United States in an ISIS propaganda video released Tuesday, NBC News reported.

The boy, fluent in English and identified only as Yousef, age 10, appears to be reading from a script in parts of the slickly produced video. NBC News hasn't verified who or where he is, or where he's from, though he says he is in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.

It's the first time an American child has been featured in an ISIS propaganda video, according to an analyst at security firm Flashpoint. A U.S. counterterrorism official was aware of the footage, noting that ISIS often tries to distract from the fact that its territory is dwindling.

"My father's an American soldier who fought the mujahideen in Iraq," Yousef says. "I didn't know much about Islam except the name. When me and mom came to the Islamic State, we started learning the correct Islamic creed."



Photo Credit: AP, File

Meals on Wheels Raising Funds for New Truck

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A Meals On Wheels program that delivers 118,000 meals to homebound seniors every year needs help. The Community Renewal Team, or CRT, is raising money to purchase a new $70,000 truck to help deliver those meals throughout the week. 

Each truck is customized with a refrigerated section and a section with gas burners to deliver cold and hot meals. The meals are made in Hartford, then trucked to several locations from Stafford to Clinton. 

“I think it’s great,” said Delores Murphy, a homebound senior in Vernon. “I am very thankful.” 

As the CRT’s truck fleet ages, the need for replacement grows. 

The CRT is accepting donations through its website and through an upcoming event, the 16th annual Meals on Wheels Golf Classic, which will be held Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Keney Park Golf Course in Windsor. 

Volunteers and seniors said they are hoping the community pulls together to donate so the Meals on Wheels program can continue operating in Connecticut. 

“These people really need this help. There (are) so many of them that aren’t able to leave their homes and get food for themselves. We may be the only people that they see during the day,” said Lynn Benevides, who has been volunteering for the past 19 years. 

In addition to delivering Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors, the trucks are also used to deliver meals to senior centers and children’s’ programs. 



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

CT Mom Wins $1M Powerball Prize With Kids' Birthday Numbers

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A Connecticut mother won the $1,000,000 Powerball prize with her children's birthday numbers. 

Johanna Moreno thought she didn't have a chance when she purchased her ticket on the night of the second largest Powerball jackpot in history at the North Elm Mobil on 100 North Elm Street in Torrington. 

"I really don't play that often and I only had a couple of dollars on me," Moreno told the CT Lottery organization. 

The number's Moreno played were a combination of her six children's birthdays.

6-7-16-23-26 and Powerball: 4 were drawn. Five of those numbers matched what Moreno had on her ticket. 

"I (had to) go to the car, my ticket was in the car! I knew the numbers right away," Moreno said.

Moreno said she is going to use the ticket to get a new car or house and wants to send her kids to school. 

The gas station in Torrington will receive a $2,500 bonus check from the CT Lottery for selling the winning ticket.



Photo Credit: CT Lottery

Car Fire Causes Delays on I-95 North in Old Saybrook

Swimming Areas at Some State Parks Closed

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Some state parks' swimming areas are closed following poor water quality testing.  

Hammonasset, the eastern portion of East Beach in Rocky Neck and Silver Sands State Parks were listed among the swimming areas closed in Connecticut for high bacteria counts.  

The waters at these three parks will be retested on Aug. 25.

In addition, DEEP said both Indian Well and Kettletown were closed due to the presence of toxic blue-green algae. Wadsworth Falls is closed because of test results showing high bacteria counts.

The water at Wadsworth will be retested on Aug. 30.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Hang Glider Makes Hard Landing in Simsbury: Ambulance

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A hang glider made a hard landing in Simsbury, the volunteer ambulance association said. 

Emergency crews responded to Nod Road for a hang glider who made a hard landing on Thursday, the Simsbury Volunteer Ambulance Association said. 

It is not clear if the person was injured or how severely. 

No other details were immediately available. Check back for updates.




Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Restaurant Tax Increase Proposed by CT Lawmakers

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The latest budget proposal from Connecticut House Democrats increases the sales tax and gives cities and towns the option to raise the rate even more at restaurants.

Right now, the state’s sales tax rate is 6.35 percent and the proposal is to increase that to 6.85 percent.

To give municipalities more revenue options, cities and towns could bump up the tax on restaurant bills to 7.85 percent.

New Haven is known for its diverse and abundant dining options.

"I actually took my wife here like two weeks ago just to show her the area and kind of peruse the restaurant scene," Robert Bartholomew of Manchester said.

At the Temple Grill patio, the possibility of an increase to the restaurant sales tax by 1.5 percent does not sit well with customers.

"We have enough in taxes," Vicki Hennessey of North Haven said. "I think we pay way too much in taxes, something needs to be done."

"I’ve already been thinking about trying to make my lunch every day and bring it to work so this might actually be the kick I need to get that going," Bartholomew said.

For lunch on Thursday, Petulia Blake tried Midpoint Istanbul for the second time. The Turkish restaurant on Crown Street recently opened.

"I’m more concerned really for small business owners primarily with new ownership such as this one," Blake, a Quinnipiac University professor of management, said. “I think it would be quite costly.”

House Democrats said a small sales tax increase would reduce the impact of Governor Malloy’s proposed cuts to education funding. He has recommended the elimination of state aid in 85 school systems and significant reductions in another 54 districts.

"They have a shortfall," Patrick Mansfield said. "Trying to come up with revenue."

Mansfield is the owner of Anna Liffey’s Irish Pub. He said he worries that a higher tax rate at restaurants could make it more difficult for small businesses to make ends meet.

"It’s a tax on the consumer under the guise of being a restaurant tax," he said.

State lawmakers should create more incentive for consumers to support their local restaurant, even more, Mansfield said.

"What they should really do is if they really wanted to increase revenue," he said. "They should reduce taxes and take off 1.5 percent."

The state is now 55 days into the fiscal year without a budget.

"These tax hikes will slam the middle class and further erode our quality of life in Connecticut," House Republican leader Themis Klarides said.

Governor Malloy has also said he is against raising the sales tax.

Nearly 90 Ledyard Kids Get Free Back-to-School Haircuts

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The buzz of hair clippers echoed through a Gales Ferry hair salon all day on Thursday.

About 90 kids from Ledyard got to sit down for a free haircut, just in time for the first day of school.

Day one is all about first impressions, according to these kids.

“It’s a new school and I want to have a good first impression,” smiled Monica Andriote, who is starting the fifth grade.

Thursday’s haircuts were thanks to a partnership between the Ledyard Police Union and Mirror Image Salon on Route 12.

The salon's owner, Cory LaRose, said the free haircuts are a way to give back to the community and some of these kids also gave back.

"One little boy, pre-K, and one girl -in, I believe, ninth grade- and they both cut their hair to donate to children with cancer," LaRose said.

“Back to school is expensive and it lets everyone stretch their budgets a little bit further and it’s wonderful that they do it,” said Ledyard mom Kait O’Brien who took her daughter in for a pre-school haircut.

If anyone knows the benefit of a haircut, it’s 10-year-old Ryan Dunn.

"I just got done and I love it," Dunn exclaimed.

He moved to a new school last year.

"He was bullied constantly throughout the whole year and he came home pretty much sad every day. So he decided to let his hair grow a little bit longer and get a little skater hairdo. And ever since that happened, he wasn’t bullied anymore," Ryan’s mom, Jodie Dunn, said.

While beauty is skin-deep, the Dunns said there’s a slice of magic behind a new "do."

“I really didn’t use to have any friends. But now I’m probably going to have a lot," Dunn said.

Dunn’s mom said he even has a girlfriend now who calls him "cutie patootie."



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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