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Policing the Mentally Ill

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  • Policing the Mentally Ill

    What kind of training takes place in the U.S. concerning the mentally ill? Too many officers and too many patients get killed here in Canada.

    http://www.cmha.bc.ca/files/policereport.pdf

  • #2
    research Crisis Intervention Team

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    • #3
      I got through a few pages of this paper before I wanted to strangle whoever wrote it. It's typical BS written by someone who has the luxury of sitting back and second guessing men and women who do a very dangerous job with very little information and then armchair quarterback them. For instance, "The majority of arrests of people with mental illness are for non-serious crimes that were either directly or indirectly related to their illness." Oh yes, because as an officer I have the luxury of deciding if someone committed a crime because they are mentally ill? So when mentally ill subject beats the stuffing out of some guy in a gas station, I as an officer should stand back and go, "oh I can't arrest him!!! He is mentally ill!!!" It's garbage.

      "In October 2000, the BC Chief Coroner issued a report following an inquest. A man who was distressed and suffering from a mental illness began acting violently in the emergency department of a BC hospital. The police were called and as a result of the police action, the man was killed." As a result of the police action the man was killed??? Really, it wasn't because he lost it on hospital staff and started acting like a psycho? It was because the police acted wrong?

      We arrive on scene with limited information and make the best out of horrible situations. Yet, people wonder why we can't play psychologist, social worker, and priest, all at the same time. I don't go to my ear/nose/throat doctor and tell him to remove a cavity. I don't go to a car salesman and tell him to find me a boat to buy. I don't go to a restaraunt and tell the server to wash my car while my food is cooking. But people think they have the right to tell an officer that they should perform at a PROFESSIONAL level in a field they don't even work in? It can take hours for mental health professionals (Doctors) to decide a proper treatment and best course of action for someone with mental illness, but within 30 seconds of meeting the mentally ill I should be able to recognize the best way to handle them?

      I have recieved some training in the subject. Does that mean I am a professional? No. Does that mean if someone with a mental illness attacks me, I am not going to do everything in my power (including killing them) to go home at the end of shift? No.

      There have been times where I have seen Social Services workers refuse to come to a scene where their mentally ill clients have lost it, simply because they didn't want to be inconvenienced at an early hour, instead they passed on responsibility to the hospital and doctors. I have seen doctors and hospitals pass the responsibility of handling these people off to police. As police we don't have the same luxury of passing off the responsibility, because when an alarmed citizen calls 911 because a strange man is talking to himself or claiming to be God, we can't just look the other way. The paper says that there have been instances in the UK where police do not respond to calls with the mentally ill. In my short time as an officer I have never seen an officer refuse to answer a call for help. It's our job. You call and we show up.

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      • #4
        I couldn't agree more JW356!! I have degrees in psychology and have worked with the mentally ill. I have also worked as a 911 dispatcher and been on hundreds of ride a longs with the local S.O. and State Police. I have personally experienced those calls that involve the mentally ill. Like you stated, as an officer you do not have the luxury to turn away when someone calls for help. You have to do what you have to do to go home to your family every night. Im getting ready to start the KSP academy and we were told we would be trained to WIN in every situation we get into. As an officer you have to, no matter what the call, or who you're dealing with.

        The mentally ill are special in a sense that they need help that an officer probably cant provide while on scene. If they have broken the law it's your duty to arrest them, and let "the system" get them into a facility where they can get help.

        I absolutely can't stand those armchair quarterbacks that speak against what others have done in certain situations, when they have no idea what it would be like to actually be in that situation. The mentally ill can cause serious problems, but as an officer you have to do your job objectively and not try to play mental health professional while on scene.

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        • #5
          Where I work there are alot of mentally Ill subjects, we have been lucky to gain access to a "CCQ" report through the TLETS/NLETS! Its an amazing tool, and has actually helped our officers and jail personel in dealing with these subjects. It at least gives our officers an insight to what they are walking into!

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          • #6
            We use the CIT team concept here and it works very well. In fact I am a CIT officer and found that the class and training was some of the best Police training I have ever recieved.
            Happy to be here proud to serve

            "Well it appears this lock does not accept american express."

            Never trust fire fighters to point out a suspect.

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            • #7
              This is how I handle the mentally ill:

              1) Predict the fact that they are always unpredictable. Guard yourself accordingly.

              2) Be as nice and as calm as possible. Avoid raising your voice.

              I usually don't have a problem with mental subjects. Of course there are many more common sense guidelines that one could use and I've heard good things about the CIT model. But, the important thing to remember is that the tongue is often a more powerful tool than fighting your way all the way to the mental hospital.

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