History of the John J. McAtee Award
Since 1987, Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri has formally recognized police officers who have shown concern and compassion when assisting a person in psychiatric crisis. In 1989, this act of recognition was officially named the John J. McAtee Award. Over the years, more than 600 officers have been recognized.
What is the Nomination Criteria?
The McAtee award honors officers who have shown compassion, concern and understanding when interacting with a person who has mental illness. The specific elements of nomination are:
1. Nominees must be a commissioned officer associated with a police department, sheriff’s office, National Park Service, campus police department or a Missouri State Trooper assigned to or located in the City of St. Louis or the Counties of St. Louis, St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren, Jefferson or Franklin.
2. The act cited must have involved someone with a psychiatric illness and the officer must have gone above and beyond the call of duty, providing outstanding compassion, concern and understanding in assisting the individual. Examples include demonstrating compassionate understanding of the behavioral symptoms being displayed, using exemplary communication and de-escalation skills, and/or partnering with mental health organizations to increase the likelihood that the person in crisis is connected to services.
3. The officer must be nominated by his/her departmental supervisor or by an employee of a mental health agency, hospital emergency room or social service agency who has direct knowledge of the act or acts.
4. Awards are presented each year in May. The act must have taken place between April 1 of the preceding year and March 31 of the current year.
5. Exact deadline for nomination submission is announced each year based on date of award presentation. Submission deadline for 2017 has not yet been set, but nominations can be submitted at this time.
6. Nominees do not have to be a CIT-trained officer.
Who is John J. McAtee?
John J. McAtee became an attorney in St. Louis in 1930, and practiced law until his death in 1995. Shortly after becoming an attorney, McAtee held the office of president of the Bar Association, and in 1932, became the youngest judge in the State of Missouri. In 1942, he joined the Navy. Upon his return, he resumed his legal practice and served as St. Louis County Counselor for four years.
During his career, John J. McAtee served on numerous boards of directors for agencies that assisted people in need. Most notably, he dedicated much of his time as an advocate on behalf of persons with mental illness. His dedication to upholding the law, his interactions with law enforcement and the court system, and his compassion for persons with mental illness was the driving force behind the creation of an award being his name.