SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The BART Police Department on Thursday announced that it would be removing the term “excited delirium” from its police manual and issuing a department bulletin informing employees of the change. BPD employees and officers will no longer be using the term in written reports, according to a release from BPD.
What is “excited delirium?”
The term, “excited delirium,” has been branded as racist and unscientific by organizations such as Physicians for Human Rights. Notably, the term was used by Antioch police in reporting on the death of a Navy vet who died in December of 2021 after a struggle with Antioch officers. Angelo Quinto’s family and attorney maintain he was murdered by police who they say put their knees on his neck for five minutes.
In August of 2021, a forensic pathologist testified during a coroner’s inquest that Quinto died from “excited delirium syndrome.” According to PHR, the term has been used disproportionately in regard to people of color “whose deaths at the hand of police have been attributed to ‘excited delirium’ rather than to the conduct of law enforcement officers.”
According to the BART police, removing the term from use was recommended by the BART Office of the Independent Police Auditor and the revision was endorsed by the BART Police Citizen Review Board.
“This policy change affirms BPD’s commitment to continuous improvement through policy changes and ongoing training that exceeds industry standards,” said BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez.
BPD’s press release also notes that the American Medical Association opposes the use of “excited delirium” as an official medical diagnosis. According to BPD, the AMA has cited studies that demonstrate that the term has been misapplied and diagnosed disproportionately in connection with the law enforcement related deaths of Black and brown people.
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The term, which is also sometimes referred to as “agitated delirium,” has been in circulation since the mid ’80s. It has largely been used by law enforcement to describe someone acting in an extrememstate of agitation or delirium. Notably, “excited delirium” was used in the defense of the officers charged in the 2020 murder of George Floyd.
The BART police called removing the term from the officer manual “the latest step taken by BPD as part of its commitment to becoming the most progressive transit law enforcement agency in the country.”