At vigil for Travis Jordan, changes in how law enforcement handles mental crisis calls urged

November 19, 2018 12:11 PM

The funeral for 36-year-old Travis Jordan was held in Waseca Saturday. That's where several family members live.

And Sunday, a vigil took place at 37th and Morgan Avenue North at the home where Jordan lived with friends. The gathering was to remember Jordan, but also others in mental crisis who needed help, not police bullets.


Jordan's roommate Paul Johnson spoke near the fire pit and flickering candles.

"You had a man who was desperately clinging onto the one bit of life he had left," he said. "This is bigger than Travis, this is bigger than Minneapolis, this is an epidemic. Two things need to be adjusted: the mental health issues and policing issue."

Gabe Big Elk lost a loved one to a police officer's bullet. Like Jordan, his life was worth more than his darkest day.

"If they knew he needed help they shouldn't have come out with blazing guns and killing people," he said.

Nov. 9, a friend called 911 to request a wellness check for Jordan, who was suicidal. Investigators said Jordan came out of the front door armed with a knife. 

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Activists at the vigil said through their pain they found purpose, including asking for improvements in how police respond to people in crisis, beyond expanding the limited co-responder program where mental health experts join officers on certain calls at certain times.  

State records show from 2004-2016, 30 percent of the people shot by law enforcement in Minnesota were diagnosed as having a mental illness.

"The co-responder model happens in two precincts in this town from 10A to 6P and only in South Minneapolis," said Michelle Gross with Communities United Against Police Brutality.

Sunday, a Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson said the co-responder concept wouldn't have made a difference in the Jordan case because any time a weapon is mentioned or implied, officers respond, not unarmed counselors and "we strongly believe that more resources need to be dedicated on the front end so individuals can get help before the police are involved."

On average, MPD handles 376 calls each month for emotionally disturbed people. 

Phillipe Cunningham, the city council member for Ward 4, said this issue is priority one at the next public safety meeting on Nov. 29.  Plus, he plans to propose a new alternative number to 911 for mental health callers.  

As for Jordan's family, they are asking for financial help to fly him back to his native state of Hawaii for a proper burial.

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Beth McDonough

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