Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cops in Crisis

Anyone who doubts that law enforcement are increasingly the ones responding to people with mental illnesses who are in crisis needs only to look in the newspaper.

Just in the past two days, we’ve seen these examples of how the safety of both law enforcement and citizens is compromised when the mental health community abdicates their responsibility to care for people with the severest mental illnesses.
  • In El Paso, TX, a man with schizophrenia was fatally shot by a police officer after he threatened paramedics with a gun and threw bleach at officers during a psychotic break.
  • A middle-aged man in Ohio was shot and wounded by police officers after the man beat a police officer with a lead pipe and threatened to shoot him. The man is described as having bipolar disorder.
  • A grand jury has decided three officers in Texas were acting in self-defense when they shot a woman with schizophrenia in January. The police were called to the woman’s home and she charged at them with a 14-foot knife.
  • Chicago police are involved in a lawsuit for fatally shooting a young man who had a mental illness. The officers were called to “diffuse the situation” while the young man was having a psychotic break. He threatened the officers with a knife.

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