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Old October 27, 2013, 04:34 PM   #1
johnelmore
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Is aggression the appropriate way to respond in all instances?

I was reading a great article about police shootings of mentally ill persons. It goes something like this...police are called to help out with a disturbed man and it ends up with the man dead shot multiple times at point blank range. My opinion is that any incident which results in a death is a failure especially of mentally ill people who are not criminals, but are just folks who have a medical situation and need the proper help.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...s-mentally-ill

So the question is if you see someone obviously disturbed not harming anyone is aggression really the way to face these types of people? My experience is that you have to talk these folks down just as if it was a hostage situation. You need to be cool, calm and keep a distance. Yelling, big men in uniforms and firearms usually escalates the situation.

The Priest and the police officer have two different ways of achieving the same result. The Priest enters a situation smiling with their hands out. They listen before they talk. The police officer comes in aggressively oftentimes escalating the situation when it could have been handled by talking from a distance. The Priest way of approaching matters is key to handleing a disturbed person.

In the post 9/11 world, we tend to think like cowboys believing that charging in with guns blazing is the way to approach these matters. However, we need to think like Priests.

The firearm is a tool for sport and self defense to be used when all other measures fail. It is not to be used as a method of control or intimidation.
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Old October 27, 2013, 05:25 PM   #2
g.willikers
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Well said.
But the police are not social workers, or priests.
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Old October 27, 2013, 05:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
The police officer comes in aggressively oftentimes escalating the situation when it could have been handled by talking from a distance.
Your "Police Officer" and most of the ones I know are different cats entirely.

While I do know one personally that came in (on me!) aggressive and ready to shoot, most of the Officers I know generally enter a scene with their eyes and mind open and the first words out of their mouths are generally, "Hey Buddy, what's goin' on?"

Now that I think about it, most of the ones I know are local County Deputies .... the hyper-aggressive one was a member of a big city Dept.....
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Old October 27, 2013, 06:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Well said.
But the police are not social workers, or priests.
as a social worker I agree. The police are people just like you or I. Different police officers will handle things differently. To expect any of them to be perfect is to expect to much.

I have never been in a situation where I had to draw my gun. I can not fault those who have...
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Old October 27, 2013, 06:26 PM   #5
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The Priest and the police officer have two different ways of achieving the same result. The Priest enters a situation smiling with their hands out. They listen before they talk. The police officer comes in aggressively oftentimes escalating the situation when it could have been handled by talking from a distance.
Not the way I was trained or worked. Smile when you can, fight when you must. I WAS a big city cop.
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Old October 27, 2013, 06:46 PM   #6
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Aggression is not the appropriate way to respond in all instances. Learning the skills of verbal de-escalation, learning how to communicate more effectively, learning how to understand how other people think – all of these skills can help you avoid violence. They can help you avoid violence directed at you, and they can help you avoid the necessity to direct violence at anyone else.

However. The fact that aggression is not the appropriate way to respond to all instances, does not mean that all instances can be avoided without violence. Particularly when we talk about EDP's, being able to avoid violence is a noble goal, but it is one that may not always be available to us.

For those who seriously wonder about such things, I have a strong book recommendation: Rory Miller's book Force Decisions, which articulates the issues extremely well indeed.

Here is a brief excerpt:

Quote:
This is one of the areas where the real world, the natural world, refuses to fit into a box that civilized people, people who believe in justice, would like. More than any other area, these are the uses of force that outrage citizens.

Here are the facts:

1) About citizens and what we want to believe: it is written into our laws, and maybe our genetics, that motive matters. We distinguish between accidental manslaughter and premeditated murder. The taking of life in self-defense is justifiable. The taking of the same life out of boredom is callous indifference. So we want to believe, maybe need to believe, that the man charging his children with a knife because he feels that he can do what he wants with his children (and they broke the lamp) should be treated differently than the same man doing the same thing because his medicines failed and he can't resist the voices any more.

That's what we want.

2) Force stops violence. The man slicing a woman's face with a razor may be an emotional disturbed person (EDP) whose medicines failed, but he will not be stopped by a kind word. In the time that you could formulate the thought and get the words out, the victim will be filleted, choking on her own blood.

The collision of these two facts is what outrages people. Force will be used, will have to be used, on EDP's unless our society changes to the extent that we no longer protect the innocent.

Emotionally disturbed, mentally ill or just suffering from a bad drug reaction, they do not deserve force, not in the sense of justice, not as some sort of punishment for their choices because the behaviors may not be choices. But society needs to protect the victims, and often the EDP as well.

However, it is even worse than that. As you remember from section 1, the threat chooses if force is to be used. At any point, merely by stopping bad actions and letting himself or herself be handcuffed, the threat can prevent force from being used. The threat also decides when he will give up. That is what ends the force.

Both of these are rational choices. Decisions. The nature of an altered state of consciousness is that the decisions made may not be rational.

If the threat is not responding to words, then verbal skills are off the table. Even if there was time to talk, which there often isn't. If the threat is not responding normally to pain (sometimes not feeling it, but sometimes not responding to the bargain inherent in pain compliance), then a low-level technique may be off the table as well. The threat may not even respond to exhaustion in a normal way. No other option but damage may be available.

This is hard to accept – with any sense of justice, someone who is not in control of his behavior deserves less force than someone who is choosing to be a threat. He certainly doesn't "deserve" more and it is unfair that he is more likely to die, not less, because of a rare inability to surrender.

It is NOT fair, but force is NOT ABOUT FAIR. It is about getting the job done and keeping people safe with the least injury that you can. It is horrible that a kid with a mental illness, and all of those cards stacked against him, is also at greater risk to die after hands of the men and women sworn to protect him. It is NOT fair, and in this case it is nature, life itself, dispensing the injustice, not the officer.
Miller has a lot more to say on this topic. I strongly recommend the book, and mourn the fact that I agree with him on the subject. Sometimes life sucks.

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Old October 27, 2013, 07:40 PM   #7
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnelmore
...The police officer comes in aggressively oftentimes escalating the situation when it could have been handled by talking from a distance....
And how can you possibly support that categorical statement? Every situation is different, and using force in defense is not the same aggression.

An emotionally disturbed person can still present a lethal threat to others. And a person who is emotionally disturbed can, because of his pathology, react in unpredictable ways.

There is no way to guarantee a happy ending.
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Old October 27, 2013, 08:38 PM   #8
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I would dare say aggression should be the last appropriate response. That said, I also think police often only become involved in situations once most other options have been explored. In other words, they are statistically more aggressive because they are in statistically more aggressive situations, not that they create more aggressive situations.
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Old October 27, 2013, 09:31 PM   #9
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Who's "we" Tonto?....

First, Id ask who "we" is?
I know I had to deal with several "EDPs" or emotional disturbed persons on security jobs in my metro area.
One male subject in his mid 30s was off his medications, drinking beer & complaining about his mother. The hotel guest called 911 on himself & then became aggressive.
Neither I or the PD who answered the call for service were aggressive or confrontatational. I had the subject trespassed & he was removed from the property. I asked for the man to be transported to a mental hospital but the police disagreed & allowed him to leave on his own.
Most people in the general public are not medical doctors or social workers. They lack the skills or training to address these EDPs or "citizens in crisis"(a term my city government uses, ).
More sworn LE agencies like the NYPD's elite ESU(emergency services) & the FBI's HRT(hostage rescue team) are learning how to deal with EDPs with special training & support services.
Not all critical incidents are handled with "big men with big guns".
It's important to keep in mind that many first responders(sworn LE) & private security are concerned with officer safety too. An EDP in a critical incident is extremely volatile. They can be docile or compliant then in a split second turn aggressive or violent.
I've seen this happen first-hand. It's not easy or simple to resolve all the time as some may think. The recent use of force shooting in Texas shows that sworn LE need to use restraint & be aware of their actions but they shouldn't be risk adverse with EDPs.

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Old October 28, 2013, 01:36 AM   #10
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Aggression is like greed, it is not a noble truth but a delusion of mind. Using force to defend yourself is not aggression but assertion.

Aggression is never the correct response to aggression. Its like stepping on a gas pedal, when you really need the brake.

When somebody attacks you, and you charge toward aggression to defend yourself, you have triggered a false action, not flight or fight but confusion. A defense takes calm mind, and a counterstrike is always more effective when you are in a still moment.

That said, "I do not think it is a stretch to claim that people can be aggressive; no matter their job, lawyer, cop, construction worker." Aggression can exist anywhere in our society, and it can be minor aggression, or major aggression.

So, keeping in mind that all people, all over the world, in any profession can at some point exhibit aggression, than one must admit that a police officer exhibiting aggression is a particularly deadly situation.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-...igated-by-fbi/

Too aggressive?

I am not condemning these particular police officers. I am not even calling for a discussion on this particular event. I have my own view on this, but as far as me and this forum are concerned: let their departments and perhaps a jury sort that out.
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Old October 28, 2013, 04:47 AM   #11
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If someone is an obvious danger to others that is one situation where a quick aggressive response is required. However where the danger isnt obvious or if they are clearly not a threat to others the response needs more thought.

Lets say someone locks themselves in a bathroom at your business and refuses to come out. How would you get them out? They are not a threat to anyone locked in a room, but eventually they do have to come out as rhe business needs to close at a certain time.
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Old October 28, 2013, 05:47 AM   #12
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In college I worked in a group home for mentally disturbed people. The police were called dozens of times and were never aggressive with the clients. The lights and uniforms were generally all it took to establish their authority, and they were always very good at talking people down.

If I learned anything from my time working in the mental health field it's that there are a whole lot of disturbed people out there. Many of them irrational and prone to aggression. Since the 60's the mental health care system has gone through a lot of big reforms, and at this point you have to present a very clear and imminent danger to be committed. The vast majority of the mentally ill either live by themselves, or with minimal assistance in a community based group home.
Due to the nature of their deficiencies, and the limited authority of the staff at these facilities they come in regular contact with the police - often times when they're already worked up.
The fact that "bad outcomes" are so rare is really more of a testament to how well trained the majority of the police force is.

There are certainly exceptions, but I don't think it's a systematic problem.
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Old October 28, 2013, 07:40 AM   #13
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A lot of times people who do not understand the realities of the resources available wonder why we can't just leave a violent, irrational, disturbed person locked inside their home or apartment or wherever. Why not just wait them out?

There are several reasons. First of all, why is this person irrational in the first place? Do they have a medical need? Are they irrational because of an excited delirium state, of untreated diabetes, of a drug overdose, of a chemical imbalance out of control? Will they die without immediate medical intervention? As much as we might dislike the idea that some medical attention can only be rendered after law enforcement get involved, that is the reality. If a loved one calls for medical help, but it is not safe to approach the person who needs help, law enforcement will get involved to get the scene safe so that the disturbed person can get the medical attention he or she needs.

Next, someone who has threatened violence – or who has scared their loved ones enough that they believe violence is possible, which is typically when the phone call comes in - and who is not rational may decide to simply sit there and settle down over time. Then again, they may not. They may instead decide to kill other people. How can they do that if they are just locked inside one home, you ask? In an apartment or townhouse, they can decide to set the building on fire. A typical suburban household has materials to make an effective bomb... and home where disturbed people live will sometimes have a much more impressive collection of materials that could go that route. Remember that 50% of American homes have firearms. Firearms are distance weapons. If the emotionally disturbed person decides to load the deer rifle, take it up into the attic, and start shooting up the neighborhood there's going to be a problem. It is an even bigger problem if law enforcement had been called, but decided to wait it out because they didn't want to bother the disturbed person.

So don't underestimate the danger of simply leaving them there.

Nor does leaving them there automatically mean that they are going to stay there. They will need to be watched. Every exit to the building – every window, every door – will require an observer. In the typical suburban house, that is a lot of officers. Then you still need to assign other officers to an outer perimeter, just in case. How long are you willing to tie up all of your local law enforcement resources waiting for the disturbed person to settle down? How many other urgent 911 calls are you prepared to put on hold to make this possible?

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Old October 28, 2013, 10:27 AM   #14
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I really dislike the flak LEO's get.

There is NO WAY to determine a persons mental state of mind, age, race, or anything else for that matter when you are responding to seconds. After the fact.

People conjure up so much negativity after the fact when they don't know the slightest fraction of what the officer was facing at the exact second.
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Old October 28, 2013, 10:30 AM   #15
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Quote:
For those who seriously wonder about such things, I have a strong book recommendation: Rory Miller's book Force Decisions, which articulates the issues extremely well indeed

Didn't see pax's response.

THIS is exactly where I also get some of my feelings from.
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Old October 28, 2013, 10:42 AM   #16
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Hindsight bias is in play. Of course, you know what to do after the fact.

Pax is right on the money with her analysis.
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Old October 28, 2013, 10:49 AM   #17
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Jane Goodall's gorilla 101 shows that intimidation works really well. When a police officer shows up, are they perceived as a gorilla or a priest. Do folks initially feel threatened or at ease with some one wearing a priest collar? These are rational perceptions. Those that are not rational are, hello, not rational. How many murders do we have by those that have been released by trained psychologists? Rapes by those that have been deemed not likely to repeat. The comparisons go on an on because we just don't know. We try to fit everyone into the belle curve. But those fringe areas of the belle curve are the ones that Murphy will send our way (another perception). I don't what makes a person tick or why they are the way they are. That's beyond me. I just know if they are wacko or not from my perception and will deal with it the best I can. If danger dictates a gun, that was their choice and its for God to sort it out.
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Old October 28, 2013, 11:11 AM   #18
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Aggression is sometimes an appropriate response; However, deadly force is seldom the correct response.

Where I hear of someone being shot dead by police officers I can't help but think they fired on the subject out of fear, and/or the lack of better training.

Most incidents that end in a fatal shooting of the subject could be ended without the use of deadly force, by means of flash bangs and tasers + enough balls to go subdue the guy without killing him, or by talking to him until he gives up voluntarily, which means getting him the help he needs.

IMHO, Fatal shootings are a reminder of what happens when the wrong people are put in charge.
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Old October 28, 2013, 11:26 AM   #19
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Quote:
Where I hear of someone being shot dead by police officers I can't help but think they fired on the subject out of fear, and/or the lack of better training.
My understanding is that police (at least some dept.'s), are trained in protocols. For instance, if a suspect does not raise his gun and take aim, they are trained to continue to order him to drop it. However, if he raises his gun, they are to fire. Also, in Jackson MI, a police officer fired on a subject who was advancing with a knife...following protocol. So, if they be true, there is at least one other reason for an officer to use deadly force, not just fear and lack of training...he may be following his training.
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Old October 28, 2013, 12:07 PM   #20
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Maybe I was over generalizing a bit, or didn't clearly state what I meant.

I'm actually quite convinced that police officers often do use deadly force based on protocol, and that is what allows fatal shootings to occur in situations that could have been resolved without the use of deadly force.

That's not allays the case, but there are many other ways to take a suspect than by killing him. FWIW, SEAL team 6 could have taken Osama bin Laden alive, if they had not been following protocol(or a higher directive(that ones debatable)).
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Old October 28, 2013, 12:19 PM   #21
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Post 11, tactical response, aggression....

To answer post #11; I had a real event like described in the post.
On a quiet Sunday evening around 700pm, a young male subject(early 20s, 6'02" to 6'04") ran into the hotel lobby where I worked then charged into the men's restroom.
The young male was intoxicated & unstable. He refused to exit the bathroom & locked the door. I contacted the local sheriff's office & kept speaking to the subject asking him to leave. I was armed(Ruger GPNY .38spl) & had a Mk III OC spray on me(Sabre Red Crossfire). My concern was that the unstable subject would burst out with a weapon or lunge at me or the hotel clerk in a rage.
I was also thinking the subject could have flushed any illegal drugs down the sink/toilet or that he could be barricading himself to get high/take drugs.
One/01 uniformed patrol deputy showed up approx 35min later & was able to extract the subject from the restroom. The deputy refused to arrest the male but did get a fire-rescue unit to transport the subject to a ER for detox/psych eval. The entire time the male was thrashing around screaming; "arrest me, arrest me".

I disagree with the concept of aggression. Sometimes, it is necessary as a tactical concept. In US special operations its called; "violence of action". There are times when you can't be risk adverse or measured in your response or you'll be at a disadvantage & lose.
I think part of the overall issue is that many in the general public(and some armed professionals) misconstrue aggression & intimidation. Both have value in limited applications. If aggression causes compliance or makes a subject surrender w/o incident then so be it. The same goes for intimidation(as a tactic). If a barricaded subject sees a SRT or SWAT unit roll up in a armored vehicle with urban camo fatigues & M4s/SMGs and that makes them give up, then so be it.
Chris Kyle, the US Navy SEAL & author of American Sniper used a motto with his team in SW Asia; "sometimes violence is the answer".

I read a recent media article that said the Dallas PD chief, Chief Brown fired the patrol officer who shot the EDP & the other officer on scene is under review by the IA unit with charges pending. Those officers used poor tactics & judgement in my view. They also filed false statements in their police reports which got them in trouble. That event wasn't an issue of aggression or intimidation. It was misconduct & malfeasance on the part of Dallas law enforcement.
Im sure the victim's family will get a huge $$$ settlement from the city over it.

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Old October 28, 2013, 01:03 PM   #22
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Is aggression the appropriate way to respond in all instances?

I think there are a lot of 'near misses' in the way the subject of lethal force response is discussed. For example, "violence is a last resort" is close-, but not quite accurate. There are circumstances in which immediate and explosive violence is exactly what is required. It's a subtle difference of language to say that, "violent response is only appropriate when other options are not available", but the language links to a different mindset.

There is a simple filter to apply:

"Are informers of imminent jeopardy present?" So long as the answer is 'no', then violence is not appropriate. If the answer is 'yes', then explosive violence is the appropriate response, whether or not diplomacy has been explored.

This is the reason for many of those LE protocols. They are basically being trained in "If, then/if not, don't" .
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Old October 28, 2013, 04:40 PM   #23
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Duane Dieter, use of force standards....

Duane Dieter set up a in-depth training course used first by US Navy SEALs & specwar units then by other special ops & LE agencies(DEA, ICE, ATF, etc).
Dieter's program teaches what response or tactic works best & when. He shows that lethal force isn't always needed or the best response. That to me is a progressive step for US military units & a good example of how new training can keep operators/officers safe and get results.

Some PDs go by a use of force continuum that allows officers to act IAW the policy. This mitigates risk by the agency but maintains officer safety.
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Old October 29, 2013, 12:25 PM   #24
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Two more quotes from the Rory Miller book Force Decisions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rory Miller
Hard Truth #6

There will never be a simple formula to give clear answers to how much force is enough. Force incidents are chaos and you can't write a cookie-cutter answer to chaos.

.... [later in the book]

One of the hardest things to explain to civilians is that there are no perfect answers in a use of force. Violence is a problem, and we have all been trained that problems have solutions. A bridge constructed in a certain way of certain materials will hold a certain amount of weight. One plus one equals two. There is a shortest route between two cities.

In medicine, perhaps, this gets fuzziest, because while there may well be an optimal treatment, not evertyhing works the same way, every time. Different people respond to the same treatment in different ways.

I would argue that violence is more complex than medicine. In medicine, you have one body, one mind to address. In violence, there are always at least two. Medicine has a well-defined baseline for what is healthy, Within Normal Limits (WNL). By the time things escalate to violence, the person, at least mentally, is beyond normal limits.

We know that these levels of anger, fear, or drugs affect the mind and body, but we don't know how much, or how universally. In the short time (a fraction of a second or hours) that the officer has to gather information, he can rarely tell if emotion, drugs, mental illness or just simply meanness is driving the behavior ... and each of those would affect the mind and body differently.

The doctor works in a clinical setting with a patient who is actively cooperating in finding a diagnosis and a treatment. They work together, the patient and the doctor, in an environment designed to limit distractions and with access to incredible technology.

The officer has to make a decision about force with only the information he can gather in the time that the threat allows. It's often in poorly lit, distracting, and dangerous environments using just his own senses, experience, intelligence, and intuition with a subject who may be actively preventing the officer from getting relevant facts.

Just like a doctor, however, the price for a mistake can be a life. Unlike a doctor, the life may well be the officer's.

With all these variables, there will never be a perfect answer. There is just stuff that worked -- or didn't. And the definition of working may not be what you expect.
Very few of us like to live in a world where there are no perfect answers to important questions where human life is on the line. But that's the world we do in fact live in.

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Old October 29, 2013, 12:33 PM   #25
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Quote:
My opinion is that any incident which results in a death is a failure especially of mentally ill people who are not criminals, but are just folks who have a medical situation and need the proper help.
Yeah, except a lot of mentally ill people are criminals. A large number of violent inmates in prisons and jails are also mentally ill. They didn't get there because they were simply creating a disturbance either.

The truth is that many mental illnesses are not curable and treatment is only marginally effective, at best. They also tend to use drugs more so than mentally stable people, which makes them aggressive and highly unpredictable. I see no reason for anyone, civilian or police, to endanger their own lives in dealing with violent mentally ill people.

In my opinion, society panders way too much to the mentally ill and drug addicted. They should be treated just like anyone else.
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