Law Enforcement and Mental Health

Some suggested that police funding be shifted in whole or part to mental health and mental illness programs.  This reflects a curious logic: Lack of mental health resources and police are the problems.

Policing makes civil society possible.  If you want to undermine and highjack a government, how better than to undermine and abolish its police.  Seeing all officers tarred with the same brush breaks my heart.  The vast majority are good citizens taking a bad rap.

Ronald Reagan knocked Federal funding for mental health research and treatment in the head.  As cash-strapped state programs failed, a large portion of managing our mentally ill fell to police and jailers, folks never meant, trained or equipped for the job.

You would be hard pressed to find a more fevered advocate for mental health research and treatment than me.  After an embarrassing number of hours on the couch, psychiatrist Dr. Eugene Chernel saved my life and launched me on a theretofore unimagined course.  Not that it matters, but in my early forties I picked up an M.S. in Psychology.  Over thirty years I have facilitated peer support groups at The Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families.  While the Center does not provide “counseling,” our commitment has assisted thousands through some of life’s most excruciating  times.

We need robust mental health programs; we need robust policing.  Of course, mental health desperately needs more money.  Getting it by reducing or eliminating police is foolhardy.

Admit it or not, we all wrestle with mental issues.  When life’s challenges begins to feel overwhelming, I may again run to a shrink.  When I witness a head-on collision, some jerk is kicking in my neighbor’s door, or my seven-year-old does not get off the school bus who do I call, my shrink or a cop?  For me it’s a no-brainer.

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