GREEN BAY — Drivers in downtown Green Bay will notice a new billboard off Main Street. The billboard was put up a few days ago by a woman whose son died in an officer-involved shooting while he was experiencing a mental episode.
In February of 2015, Toni Biegert called police to check on her son. According to the Department of Justice, a confrontation broke out. The Justice Department says Biegert grabbed a knife an attempted to stab an officer. Police then shot and killed him.
Now, Biegert’s mother Toni says that incident could have been prevented had police been trained with crisis intervention.
“It’s about really making our community stronger, making our police department stronger,” says Biegert. “And having our community trust our police again, because there is a lot of distrust.”
Police Chief Andrew Smith, who took officer training after the incident, says he wants his officers to be more aware of mental health. The mission is to get police the training they need so people like Biegert’s son don’t go through the same experience.
“We really recognize that people with mental health issues is a critical part of police work,” says Chief Smith. “And it only seems like it is becoming more and important and more and more prominent across the country.”
Chief Smith says he sent around 50 officers to get crisis training. Chief Smith says he wants to send more but the cost is an issue. Biegert says she won’t stop addressing the issue until police get the training they need.