Arriving at the scene of the call where a man is camping and very combative according to the report. Our first attempt to make contact and ask investigative questions seems to antagonize him; he begins shouting that he is not someone to be bossed around. It is apparent to our trained eye at this point the man is suffering from a mental illness and has not received any medical attention.
Upon further attempts to inquire his real identity and what he is doing in this location he further is angered at our inquest and pulls out a large knife from his boot. Once a person has pulled a weapon out we have to adhere to police procedure in handling a possible situation of deadly force. If the area is a public area where bystanders could be injured we must use methods to restrain the victim without allowing him to hurt the public.
We must take precautions to protect ourselves and fellow officers. Attempts to talk the individual into dropping the weapon does not work. Explaining to him if he allows us to escort him to the police station we can clear up this whole confusion. This individual has just committed an assault on a police officer and now he must be arrested and taken to the station. Our first line of defense to subdue the individual would be the use of Tasers. However, once an individual takes out numerous weapons and threatens to use deadly force officers will need to make a split decision to take the action of firing their gun to prevent further loss of life. This is a last resort and should never be taken lightly. An officer that fires his weapon and causes the death of an individual must undergo a thorough investigation to uncover the facts surrounding his decision to use deadly force. Because of the incidents of deadly force used to subdue persons with mental illness there is a larger focused attention to look into the problems with the mentally ill and the revolving door from the streets, jails, and half-way homes. (Santos & Goode, 2014).
Police officers are being placed in a situation where they are not trained to handle psychotic individuals who are suffering from mental illnesses. Police are trained to protect and serve and not to counsel mentally ill people; they are not trained as social workers or psychiatric nurses or doctors. The mentally ill people in the United States going untreated are becoming a major problem for the police. They are run through the jail systems on a regular basis and are referred to by police as “Frequent fliers” because of their repeated arrests. (Santos & Goode, 2014).
The situation is dire and when people are threatened by individuals suffering from mental illness the first call is to the 911 operator to send out the police. Dr. Fuller from the Treatment Advocacy Center stated that police officers are the first line of contact for these situations and the call volume has doubled from 2009 to 2011. (Santos & Goode, 2014). The increases in these incidents have caused a natural fear of the police and authority figures.
They are not receiving the primary care they need and are unable to financially afford the costs to go to a doctor or clinic even if they were willing. In most cases these mental ill people are not willing to go to a clinic for fear of being institutionalized. Many have been through the half-way houses or in scenarios where they were institutionalized for a period of time in an attempt to regulate their illness. Once they are released from these institutions they go back to the streets and no longer take the medication to keep their illness under control and the next stop is the jail house.
Our country has to realize that we must provide funding for more programs to house and provide treatment for these individuals. In addition, create ways to assist them to get funding to pay for the programs through disability income and non-profit organizations in order to lower the mortality rate of the mentally ill on the streets.
- NYTimes Police Confront Rising Number of Mentally lll Suspects Fernanda Santos and Erica Goode April2,20l4 A2