Stop Using Police As Mental Health “Paramedics”

This article tells of how the Cedar Rapids police are starting to use crisis intervention instead of traditional escalation of force in mental health cases. That’s…better than nothing. But really, law enforcement has no place in dealing with a person in a psychotic state. They don’t have the training to de-escalate the situation, and too often it ends with the death of the person in crisis. Using non-violent de-escalation techniques is more time-consuming. It’s also more humane, and there really is no excuse for not doing it. It’s like corporal punishment for children. It’s certainly easier, and more efficient, to beat them into submission. But it’s inhumane and barbaric to do so.

Here’s a recent story from Madison, Wisconsin, where police used traditional brute force to subdue a non-violent, black 17-year-old. The teenager was on an involuntary civil commitment. Such commitments have “treatment conditions” that require the individual to keep appointments with doctors, submit to regular urine screens (to confirm that prescribed medications are being taken and that non-prescribed drugs are not), and other restrictions. If treatment providers allege that the conditions are not being complied with, the standard response is not to pick up the phone and ask the person to reschedule the missed appointment or otherwise address the concern. Rather, the police are called. They show up with flashing red lights. They bang on the door, then handcuff the person (who has not committed a crime), throw them into the squad car and haul them to a locked inpatient facility. In the Madison case, the police took the extra steps of throwing the child against a wall and punching him before they hauled him off. I’m also attaching video footage taken from the home security system showing this brutality. This shameful mistreatment must stop.

Edit: At some time after I posted this, the home video footage showing the brutal attack on the teenager was taken down. I don’t know who was responsible, but I am disappointed that the video is not available to expose the mistreatment of the teen.

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