Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Increased training or treatment?

In November, police officers fatally shot 19 year-old Ryan Salisbury when he ran toward them with a knife. Salisbury’s mother had warned police officers that he suffered from bi-polar disorder and was having a psychotic break, and they took precautions, like turning off their lights and sirens upon arrival, and initially shooting him with non lethal beanbags.

But the beanbags didn’t phase him, and he kept advancing on officers. Salisbury’s mother watched from a bedroom window as her son was struck by four bullets.

Just one week before the shooting, the officer who shot Salisbury had participated in a training session about how to handle encounters with people with mental illness.

The officer was trained to handle people with mental illness, they first used non lethal methods, and they were responsive to the family in their approach. Yet Salisbury still died.

Increase officer training? Or stop people from deteriorating into psychosis in the first place?

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