The NYPD is developing new “sensitivity rules” for police officers to deal with mentally unstable individuals.
The NY Post describes the new initiative as “touchy-feely.”
Then I went and read the comments at the Weasel Zippers post where I caught the NY Post article. The comments are terrible. I can’t stand when polarizing politics gets in the way of a good idea.
Now I will say, I don’t know just yet how effective the NYPD mandade will be. How they implement these new mandates is something we will have to see. But at face value, I completely support the push to make officers more sensitive to people’s mental states. To dismiss that is beyond stupid.
When my dad was dying, he was delusional. He had no idea where he was. His blood sugar was out of whack. His kidneys were failing. He talked to people who weren’t there and about things that didn’t make sense.
When my wife’s grandfather was at the end of his days, we visited him in the old folks home. He flirted with my wife, because he had no idea who she was, what year it was, and seemed to think he was at a church dance.
Disease and illness does strange things to people’s awareness and cognitive abilities. The police are often called out to deal with people who are acting strange. Sometimes those interactions go badly.
A few years ago a Park Forest, Illinois, police officer killed a 95 year old man with a bean bag round. The man had dementia and was delusional and dehydrated. Yes, the man had a knife, but he was 95 and thirsty.
These people didn’t need to get shot. They just needed a cup of juice.
There has been an increase in police having to interact with the mentally ill. Police, psychiatrists, and medical doctors all have proposed ways that police can improve their response to people with mental illness.
The motto of the police is to “protect and serve.” Saving the lives of the mentally ill, rather than shooting them should be a priority. I’m not asking the police to treat the mentally ill. But for a police officer to be able to assess if a person is suffering from a mental or emotional problem and de-escalating the situation in a way that does not involve harming a person that is not fully cognitive is a critical. Even if the tactic is to contain the person until medical personnel can better handle the situation is a step forward.
This is not an unreasonable position to take, given that as the baby boomers get older, the number of people with diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other problems will increase. If this saves one grandparent who is having a medical crisis from being shot unnecessarily, it’s a good thing.
But a good portion comments to this article seem to cheer on the idea that the police should just shoot and or taze people who are having problems and that this is a case of liberalism run amok.
This why we can’t have nice things. Because if a good idea does manage to come out from the other side of the aisle, it’s immediately quashed. Liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican – I don’t care who comes up with the idea, if it saves lives and reduces the financial burden on cites by reducing the number of wrongful death suits, I will entertain the idea.
Maybe, just maybe, a policy of teaching a cop how to identify and deal with someone who needs an MD more than a JHP is more important than the letter after the name of the person who created the policy.