Thursday, May 31, 2007

The how and why of an officer's death

Last Friday, Officer Jason West of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, died in the line of duty.

An article on Sunday gave details on how he lost his life.

At 9:47 p.m., police received a report of a street fight.

As Officer West approached the scene, he stopped the car of Timothy Halton, 27, as he tried to leave. As West stepped out of his cruiser, Halton shot at Officer West from inside his own car. He then exited his car and shot West at close range. West was hit in the leg and face; he later died.

An article on Thursday detailed why the officer lost his life. Its title – Suspect in officer's killing didn't take his drugs: Agency couldn't compel medication for Halton

Nineteen days before that Friday, he showed up for a psychiatry appointment. Halton, who had been skipping his monthly anti-psychotic injections, again rebuffed his psychiatrist’s pleas for treatment.

That article also describes Halton’s history of violence and run-ins with police.

The story also contains pleas for treatment law reform that are always present but typically only gain light of the media in the wake of such a tragedy.

“Psychologist Fred Frese [and TAC Board Member] of Hudson says Ohio needs a law like New York's Kendra's Law, which gives judges greater authority to force mentally ill people into treatment. The law was named for Kendra Webdale, who died after a schizophrenic man pushed her in front of a subway train in 1999.”

We can only hope that the people of Ohio take heed of Dr. Frese’s recommendation.

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