People much smarter than me have clearly explained the underlying institutional dysfunctions that ensure the next (inevitable) police shootings.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown accurately stated that law enforcement has become the safety system in schools, a primary community mental health service provider, and of course the armed responder to a growing number of society’s violent problems.
Recently, Minnesota sheriffs from Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington Counties wrote a half page Star Tribune article threatening to sue the State for failing to provide timely mental health services to people locked up in their jail cells. This failure has turned law enforcement into a provider of mental health services to a large and growing population of often dangerous people.
The public health issue of mental health and the violence and dangers it presents will never be dealt with effectively by Law Enforcement.
I have listened to police and police chiefs talk about dealing with this growing number of unpredictable, mentally unstable people (and even whole families). They know that the center cannot hold and that the weak link breaks and bad things happen.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown and MN Sheriff Rich Stanek speaking out about how armed law enforcement officers are now the front line in managing more and more of societies problems is just the beginning. Imagine what it is like to be the officer facing down a suicidal person.
Sheriff Stanek and his fellow Washington and Ramsey Sheriffs threatening to sue the State of MN for not providing timely mental health services to the troubled people in their squad cars and jails thereby turning law officers into mental health service providers may be the most effective way of drawing attention to the massive under-treatment of traumatized children soon to impact schools, communities and law enforcement in this nation.
As a Hennepin County volunteer guardian ad-Litem, I have come to know second and third-generation families of under-treated traumatized children with drug problems, violent boyfriends and serious mental health problems that are now having their own next generation of soon to be neglected and abused (traumatized) children. Children who will bring their drug and behavioral problems to school and the community. It’s inevitable that there will be another generation of traumatized children entering our schools every five years and squad cars soon after.
About a third of the youth in child protection are proscribed psychotropic medications nationally. In 2014, 20,000 one and two-year old children were proscribed Prozac and similar medications. About 2/3 of the youth in the Juvenile Justice System have mental health issues and half that number have serious, chronic and multiple issues.
Minnesota’s former Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz clearly defined the problem by stating that 90% of the youth in the Juvenile Justice System have come up through the Child Protection System. Almost all felons have passed through the Juvenile Justice System. We will never build enough prisons or jails to manage our current approach to mental health and traumatized citizens that are in place in our nation today.
Add to this the militarizing of of police departments throughout the nation and what is happening on our city streets becomes understandable (inevitable).
It would help if more lawmakers understood these issues and voted their conscience instead of their politics for the policies governing our lives and well-being as a society.
If this article resonates with you, please share it widely (especially with your legislators & people that vote).
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children