In this article, I’m not going to look into whether it was called for or not.
Judgments like these are hard to make without knowing all of the facts and having ‘boots on ground.’
But after talking to him for hours, the situation did seem to mysteriously escalate towards the end, but I’m sure we will learn more as this investigation continues.
As the director of a rescue mission, what does concern me is the increased numbers of mentally ill we are seeing on a daily basis.
People who may seem to be doing fine one minute and becoming completely unbalanced the next.
Ever since deinstitutionization in the 60’s, we have basically turned the mentally ill loose on our streets.
In the absence of adequate mental health services, we are seeing increased numbers of people with severe mental disorders coming into contact with both social services and law enforcement on a daily basis.
Our jails have become the new mental institutions and our rescue missions, law enforcement and other social services are being forced to become their psychiatrists.
It is becoming a viscous circle with the mentally ill being shuffled between the streets, to jail cells, to shelters and missions and back to jails.
Numerous studies have reported that approximately one-third of homeless persons have a serious mental illness, mostly schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Serious mental illnesses disrupts people’s ability to carry out essential aspects of daily life.
Some mentally ill people self-medicate using street drugs, which can lead not only to addictions, but also to disease transmission from injection drug use.
This combination of mental illness, substance abuse, and poor physical health makes it very difficult for people to obtain employment and residential stability.
The burden of taking care of our mentally ill, is falling, by default upon law enforcement and charitable institutions like ours who are sometimes not sufficiently trained to handle it.
Helping homeless people with mental health problems isn’t a question of whether we should help them or not.
Every single one of them is a human being worthy of our love, respect and care.
Nor is it a question of whether we are ever justified in killing them or not. The rules and use of deadly force are very clear.
It is also not a question of finding and spending more money. We already are spending that money, to fund prisons, emergency rooms, and other safety-net institutions.
The question is are we directing that money to the right place?
~ By Randy Salars
Reprinted courtesy of the Silver City Daily Press
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