Last Sunday, the CBS Sunday Morning Show - one of the most intelligent shows on American broadcast television, featured police conduct, - obviously the murders, but also the good things they do. A few thoughts from that.
As a society we have defunded community services, poverty, recreation, homelessness, and mental health treatment. As one police chief put, the police become the catch all, when the programs that should help people are not there. People act up in public, and the police are called in. Prepared or not. He estimated that 1/3 of the calls his department responds to are mental health calls. San Francisco has dedicated funding to mental health crisis response, emergency operators send the mental health experts, rather then the police to non--violent calls for help, and the unit accompanies the police when mental health is an issue and the person is violent. The result is better care, fewer dead people.
I will get political for a moment. During the Reagan administration mental health was deemed a personal weakness, and not as a real illness. Over the years I have learned that I don't truly understand the struggles of a person with mental health challenges. I have never been where taking control, being strong, making better choices wouldn't get me out of the hole. People with mental illness need help to do that. Their illness is real, and while some might feel better with time, many need real help, help that they wait weeks for outside of an emergency room that is going to medicate and move them back out the door, and most struggle to pay for the care they need. When I started at Rollins College in the mid 1980's, the most successful graduate program was a masters in mental health counseling with a focus on substance use and addiction, along came Reagan, federal funding for treatment was slashed, and treatment programs closed one after another.
At the same time we militarized the police. The model of a police officer with a six shot revolver, was replaced with semi-automatic pistols that hold a dozen rounds and can be reloaded in about 5 seconds (I have shot them in competition - yes, that fast,) and assault weapons. Funding for Special Weapons and Tactics, and armoured assault vehicles (civilian tanks) is easier to get, than funding for community mental health. And we built prisons, lots and lots of prisons.
The end result, is undertrained, overarmed, police responding to mental health, and people keep dying.
The show also featured police officers who have adopted abused children, an officer who took a week's vacation to drive a 90+ year old cross country to visit family, because he insisted he was going to drive it alone. Not all are bad. But it is time to lower the blue wall of silence, the good officers, need to speak up, the bad officers need to fill some of those prison cells we have built.
I had something else planned for today, but this was bubbling in my brain, and needed to be said.
Let it rip! Thats just the issue. The amount of depressed, unstable and mental illness is through the roof. But where do all these people go it they can't afford to seek meatal help. Just this week alone while helping my friend, the amount of people wondering around having whole discussion with themselves was shocking. Or they were acting out in bizarre ways.ReplyDelete
Kind of a hurl, maybe I am channeling Anne MarieDelete
Reagan was the beginning of so many serious problems in the country and world. So much of what is happening today is a result of his leadership.ReplyDelete
Lots of damage from one 8 year administrationDelete
I'm pleased you did post this. I agree with Mitchell. I recently listened to a podcast about his war on drugs. Decades later we still parody Nancy with 'Just say no'.ReplyDelete
The Floyd business was a case of probable good police standing by and doing nothing while one of their own did a very bad thing. People have to be confident that they can speak up without repercussions. This is especially the case with airlines where junior pilots have to be deliberately trained to challenge the senior pilot if they think he is wrong.
While our basic public physical medical care here is quite good, our mental health care is not so good. It is being addressed but I won't hold my breath.
Oh the rant I could write about Nancy,Delete
This issue is more complex than a 2 sided argument tries to force us to choose a side: Either you think cops are good or you think cops are bad.ReplyDelete
You hit the nail on the head: a police force is valuable when it’s trained correctly to handle civil disobedience and non-conformance with the law. It was never meant to be the answer to every single societal problem. In many ways, it parallels teachers having to take on more than educating students, becoming social workers, therapists, nutritionist, and family councilors. Bottom line, no system is immune to corruption and abuse, and the police force is particularly dangerous because of the authority and power they are provided. Any since your organization, that wants to do a good job, and not abuse their power and harm society, would want to examine themselves and how to do better. I think there are amazing police out there just like there are amazing people in every profession, but until the good speak out and the bad or punished, the default stance will have to be distrust, because too many innocent lives are being taken to continue giving all police the benefit of the doubt. It’s time for reform. And change. And to return the police force to a force for good providing protection, instead of a source of intimidation, fear, and public execution.
*any sincere organization*ReplyDelete
It is time for change, time for reform. There are models around the world,Delete
Reagan was and remains a cancer on this country.ReplyDelete
And our police forces need to be reformed, and perhaps take many f the millions given to them and put it into social programs which will aid society more than body armor and assault rifles.
Thanks, sometimes things just need to be saidDelete
This is absolutely right. Our funding priorities need to be readjusted.ReplyDelete
An ounce of preventionDelete
Mental illness - especially substance abuse - is still seen by many as a weakness, a personal 'choice' the product of a person's decisions.ReplyDelete