Monday, October 26, 2009

Gun To Head Just Like Last Time

Remember this kid?

He's acting out again! The other week a call comes in that he got a hold of a pistol and fired a few shots in the air and now was holding the gun to his head. Officers get there and set up their perimeter. Just like last time the kid (K) isn't responding to dialogue very much. He just says he wants to die, and he wants the officers to kill him. Just like last time, he knows not to point the pistol directly at the officers yet he keeps shouting for them to kill him. Just like last time, he's drunk and high. It's a good thing I wasn't on when this situation occurred. I would have a hard line approach. My approach would be like "Look here K, you pulled this stunt last year! So what is that you want to happen. Your fate is in your hands so make a decision!" Of course to people, especially brass, who don't know the history of dealing with K would probably freak out. They would think we have to make sure K doesn't actually kill himself. Now anyone (especially street officer) with any sense and experience knows all we can do is try to redirect his focus and convince him not to kill himself. If he does, then his mind was already made up and we did was delay the inevitable. Anyway, just like last time he surrendered and just like last time he went to the psych hospital who has let him out by now and he's back home. Just waiting until the next time K wants to throw and extreme temper tantrum. I don't think he has the nerve to end his own life, however I suspect one day he will work up the nerve to coax us into killing him which will be a tragedy for the officer forced to do it. It will also be a tragedy for his family who have had to live with his mental state his whole life.

If Anyone Got Special Treatment, it Wasn't the Sherif

Sometime during the night or early morning of October 23, someone stole the tires off of Sheriff Garcia's county owned vehicle.

Well, this crime happens frequently. I've made many calls where a homeowner comes out to their car and finds it either burglarized, tires stolen, window shot out, etc. In the dead of night when most people are asleep, thieves "go shopping" in residential neighborhoods and most often time the crime isn't discovered until people get up to go to work or school. Many people would ask since it would probably take a little time to remove these four tires, shouldn't someone have been alerted? More often than not, most people are asleep and hear nothing. So this in a nutshell of a crime and the only reason it's so noteworthy was that Sheriff Garcia was the "victim". I suspect there is a buried feeling in the mentality of the public (and fueled by the media) that police officers should never be victims of crime due to the nature of our occupations. This falls in the same category among the general public (again fueled by the media) that forget police officers are also human beings and go through the same trials and tribulations everyone else does. I've known officers who come home and find their houses had been burglarized and unfortunately there is little evidence to go on, just like any other burglary. So, the crime happens, a report was made and life goes on.

Then I read the Houston Chronicle version;

"The vehicle was towed to a county impound lot to be examined for fingerprints or other possible evidence."

"A spokeswoman for his office said Garcia was getting no special treatment and that investigators did not give his case higher priority than any other citizen's theft complaint."

I have never heard of an instance in which Joe Citizen's car was vandalized, burglarized, or parts stolen from in which the car was taken to a station for evidence processing. Sometimes, individual officers will attempt to dust certain areas of the vehicle in an attempt to find fingerprints. However, most often time the officer shows up, gathers information and writes a report and the citizen is spending money to fix the damage to their cars. Now don't interpret this to suggest that Sheriff Garcia demanded the vehicle get processed. This would have happened regardless of whom was Sheriff. People should also understand that this was a police vehicle, not the Sheriff's personal vehicle and a little more attention will be paid to it. So, Sheriff Garcia isn't getting special treatment, however this case is getting a higher priority than the "average" auto part theft case just by it's very nature. The odds of this case getting solved are about the same as Joe Citizen's case which are not very good. However in law enforcement anything can happen.

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!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

From the "What Were They Thinking Files"

A man driving an ugly ass VW was stopped on traffic. He had a suspended license and open warrants. So naturally he was going to jail. He gets taken out of the car and told to "put his hands on the car" which I really hate. After refusing two commands he takes off running. The officer yells for back up and it comes. Another officer cuts off the suspect and tackles him to the ground where the fight continues. The suspect attempted to take the officer's pistol which got him a whiff of OC pepper spray and the fight was over! Of course by the time I got there it was all said and done. I was listening to the man's protest about being treated unfairly! I couldn't believe my ears. This guy ran, fought, tried to take an officer's pistol, and is now protesting his treatment. I asked him why he ran to start with. He said he didn't want to go to jail. I politely remind him that is where he is going now and I remind him that it is his fault he is in this mess. Of course he suffers from the denial of responsibility mentality that many crooks suffer from. Nothing is his fault, he's just a victim of mean old policemen!