It’s common for law enforcement officers to respond to people in mental health crises. Desperate family members often call 911 if they believe a loved one is at risk of harming themselves. If a patient expresses suicidal intent, health professionals will sometimes call for the police assistance.

And in North Carolina, sheriffs’ deputies are responsible for transporting psychiatric patients — often in shackles — when they need to go from one hospital to another for forced treatment.

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