Almost half of the people who die at the hands of police have some kind of disability, according to a new report, as officers are often drawn into emergencies where urgent care may be more appropriate than lethal force.
The report, published by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a disability organization, proposes that while police interactions with minorities draw increasing scrutiny, disability and health considerations are still neglected in media coverage and law enforcement policy.
"Police have become the default responders to mental health calls," write the authors, historian David Perry and disability expert Lawrence Carter-Long, who analyzed incidents from 2013 to 2015. They propose that "people with psychiatric disabilities" are presumed to be "dangerous to themselves and others" in police interactions.
I have actually had some experience with this, and on at least two occasions been called into to deal with a situation that the police have only escalated with their ham fisted approach.
Often police officers believe that due to the fact that they are authority figures people are supposed to automatically respect them and succumb to their will.
However mentally ill people respond in all kinds of unexpected and even inexplicable ways that police have not been trained to identify or deal with effectively.
I will say that police are being better educated these days than was the case even five or ten years ago, but the training they receive is quite inadequate for the challenges they may face in their communities.
This is why I was so pissed off that the conservatives were blaming gun violence on mental illness, and then paying lip service to the idea that we need to increase mental health funding.
They are NEVER going to do that willingly, and the fact is that we desperately need that money.
I do not believe in any way that fixing our mental health system will decrease the number of civilians shooting each other with guns, but it most certainly WILL keep police from gunning down so many mentally disabled people in the streets.