Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The first responders

Family members said Steven Guillory, 39, had been in and out of treatment for paranoid schizophrenia his whole life.

On July 21, Guillory pummeled the windshield of a patrol car and threw a piece of three-foot pipe at officers. The officers at the scene said they attempted to taser Guillory, but it had no effect. Shortly after, Guillory charged at the officers and was fatally shot.

The response by many in the Texas community where this tragic incident happened has been to blame law enforcement. Whether or not the police handled the situation properly is open to investigation, but there is no question that law enforcement officers are increasingly the ones responding to people with mental illnesses who are in crisis. The safety of both law enforcement officers and citizens is compromised when the mental health community abdicates their responsibility to care for people with the more severe mental illnesses.

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