Friday, October 16, 2009

A Post About Dealing With Mentally Disturbed People

The call went out as a young man who was preventing his mother from leaving. At first I wondered if the suspect was a 5-year old child. When they said he was now jumping on the mother's car shot that notion out the window. By the time I'm there the parties are in the driveway. The officer is listening to the mother however her son (an adult) was listening and kept interrupting. I intervened and put the son in a patrol car. He doesn't need to be listening to his mother describe how he grabbed her and kicked her trying to keep her from leaving. Understandably the mother doesn't want any charges, she says her son has mental issues and has acted out like this before. At this point I'm thinking he is either going to jail, or to a psych hospital. We tried to get charges for either family assault (since mom won't say she felt any physical discomfort) or unlawful restraint however the DA's office won't take anything. That leaves us with the psych hospital (even though the son is telling us he does this to get attention). Either way, I don't think he should be left in the house. We wound up taking him to the psych hospital. It kind of annoyed me that the mom was upset. She didn't want him to be taken from the house. I explained to her that he is lucky he isn't going to jail. I tell her we cannot just leave him here and hope things will get better. She can't control him, that's why she called us out and we're dealing with her problem.

On that note, I read this story. What offends me is that every news outlet reports he was gunned down by the officer and only gives bare mention that the office was attacked by this guy who has mental problems.

"The city of Stafford's statement about the case said Aaron Hobart “charged and viciously attacked the officer. The officer believed his life was in jeopardy.” The city release stated its officials are unaware of a legitimate basis for a lawsuit over this incident ."

Usually agencies use the "we don't comment on pending litigation line" to get out of having to comment. It's not often an agency or government entity will go on record with a comment like this unless they are confident about their officer's actions. Unfortunately this type of lawsuit has become commonplace. We can't go to a training class without hearing the phrase used to sue "failure to train and supervise." The incident is all too familiar. Someone is off their meds and the family can't control them. They call the police who respond. The mental person attacks or threatens the officer and/or someone else forcing the officer to use deadly force. The parents then get on the news and sue because they (and often times the media) think that we should allow ourselves to be hurt because someone is trying to harm us because they think we're a demon and cannot grasp the nature of their actions. I don't want anyone to misread this and say I have no sympathies for parents with mentally disturbed children. I know the parents sacrifice a lot to raise and protect their kids and they suffer for it. I know they do it out of love for the children. I also know there comes a time they need to pick up a phone and call for help because they cannot deal with the situation. However they need to understand a couple of points. First and foremost, no officer is going to lay his or her life down because their child isn't meaning to harm them, just can't comprehend the harmful nature of their actions. Another important point is that CIT (crises intervention training) does not guarantee a happy ending. All CIT teaches is patience and different techniques of communicating. It's success depends on the actions of the mentally disturbed individual. If the person is receptive then the encounter and training is a success. If the person screams and attacks the officer then the CIT training goes out the window and the self defense training comes to play. While no officer ever wants to have to kill someone, especially a mentally ill teenager, parents need to understand that they are the best communicator with their child. Not the police and not the mental health 'experts.' If their child has decided to attack people then all bets are off. Just because they don't understand the harm they are causing doesn't mean we as police should turn the other cheek. We have better things to do than go to the hospital or the morgue!


A said...

I really enjoyed this post.

Anonymous said...

Alas, you don't have any grasp of the facts here. The self-serving statement by Stafford police belies the truth, which is that this untrained officer panicked. The officer suffered no injuries. In fact, he was seen laughing about the whole incident after he was told to go to a hospital to get treatment for his "wounds." Of course there were no wounds. The boy, unarmed and dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, was trying to get out the front door and tried to push the officer out of the way. The press release about a "savege assault" is complete garbage. This is not a case of a mentally ill person armed with a weapon who could be a threat. This was a skinny 19-year-old kid. One also might wonder why the officer unloaded his gun on him, shooting him while he lay helpless on the ground. Or why the officer responded to the call when he had not been dispatched, thus arriving completely ignorant of the reason for the call. Unfortunately, police in Texas have license to shoot anybody at any time while they are on duty and then claim they feared for their life. Never are they held accountable. Instead, officials will make up nonsense to cover their backside.

Jason said...


Unless you were there to firsthand witness the officer laughing you are the last person to say anyone doesn't have a grasp of the facts. If you weren't on that scene where are you getting your information? Surely you wouldn't listen to rumor and go repeating it as gospel truth.

How do you know the "savage assault" is inaccurate? Were you there?

Have you had to fight a skinny teenager? Those guys can give a body builder a run for their money if properly amped up. I would guess you have not had that experience, maybe you read about it somewhere?

How do you know the officer unloaded his gun on him? Again, were you there?

Officers do not have a "license" to shoot people. I'm afraid you're grossly misinformed. While you're certainly welcome to your opinion at least have an informed one.