Toy giveaway event strengthens relationship between mental health community and police officers

- At Saturday's toy giveaway event, police officers met with children and handed out presents.

They also raised awareness about mental health and how to go about handling those suffering from the illness.

At the event, family and friends celebrated the life of Michelle Cusseaux.

"Michelle was young at heart. Full of life and laughter, and I feel her presence here today. Because of her death, this is the reason t hat we're gathering here today," said Frances Garrett, Cusseaux's mother.

Back in 2014, Cusseaux was killed by police who say a struggle took place as she held a hammer and refused to leave her apartment. This was after officers were ordered to take her to a mental health facility.

Since then, Phoenix Police have created two crisis intervention teams who are trained to deal with mental health patients.

"These teams are a little bit more trained and have a little bit more background. Six of our 12 detectives have gone to the FBI negotiation school. These teams aren't responsible for the typical police work that all the other police officers are responsible for. They are just responsible to go out there, spend time with people, talk to them. Say 'Hey we're just going to take you down there, we're going to see a judge, you're going to see your case worker," said Aimee Smith with the Phoenix Police Department.

Cusseaux's mother says since then, she's held this event so police and underprivileged kids can meet on friendly terms.

Those attending say they're proud of the Phoenix Police for investing in better training and supporting the community.

Garrett says since the CIT Squads have been created, the mental health community has had a much better relationship.

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