‘Tanisha’s Law’ steps closer to reality; family shines light on mental health

CLEVELAND – Tanisha Anderson’s family is one step closer to fulfilling their mission.

“My energy now is to make sure the history books reflect Tanisha’s Law,” said Tanisha’s uncle, Mike Anderson.

This weekend marks eight years since Tanisha died after being detained by Cleveland police during a mental health crisis.

Anderson visited the Cleveland State University campus to talk to students about Tanisha.

He also shared with the News 5 Investigators a draft of what he would like to see as Tanisha’s Law in Cleveland.

The hope is to get people talking about mental health and doing more to help people in crisis.

“It’s a tribute to your niece. I like this,” Anderson said.

He stood by the picture of his niece in a room full of open ears.

“Why don’t you look at this, you can take it with you,” he told one student.

It was mid-morning on campus in the student center.

“That happened to her in 2014,” Anderson said.

Students rushing to class stopped to listen to Anderson tell his granddaughter’s story.

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“Her mom passed and I picked up where she left off,” Anderson said.

Tanisha Anderson died in November 2014 after her family repeatedly called 911 for mental health help. She was bipolar and schizophrenic.

But instead of help, the police handcuffed Tanisha face down on the icy pavement. She later died in hospital.

“It’s different emotions, you know what I mean, but I have to keep being strong and remember that this is actually a goal and I’m glad I was chosen to work for that goal,” Anderson said.

Anderson has spent the last year and a half working with a small team of professionals at Cleveland State on how to connect with students and the community as a whole on the mental health response.

Some of their discussions led them to today on campus to honor Tanisha and work to build a network.

“And as a citizen, as a resident, as a family member and as a professional, there are ways you can use that awareness to get involved and encourage people to push for change,” said Dr. Ann Galetta, president and Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Foundations.

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Anderson shared with News 5 Tanisha’s bill, which Cleveland Councilwoman Stephanie House plans to introduce.

Tanisha’s Law would provide alternatives for people in crisis, other than the police, to include transportation of vehicles and locations.

Howse says that as a city, it already has bits and pieces of resources, but the problem is funding to make them readily available and letting people know they exist.

“We have to do a much better job of making sure people know who to call, where to go — and when that call is made and help does come, that help is compassionate, caring and de-escalates appropriately,” said Dr. Victoria Winbush, College Lecturer in the Department of Social Work at Cleveland State.

Last month, Mayor Bibb and the police chief discussed a $5 million proposal to connect more police officers with mental health providers after the early success of co-response programs.

“We need this to be driven 24-7, not just in certain areas, but across the city — across the greater Cleveland community,” Winbush said.

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Mike Anderson says he’s standing up for his niece and for the people who might need help one day like she does.

“So when this happens again, they’ll know how to deal with a mental health crisis,” Anderson said.

Anderson says this is not about reopening the case or smearing the police; it’s about change and nothing else.

No date has been set for the introduction of the ordinance. Anderson says they are still working on the language.

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