Police Turn Mental Health Call Into a Disaster

Los Angeles police patch
Los Angeles Police Department

Officer Shot By Friendly Fire

On Wednesday a call was made to the Los Angeles Police Department about an individual suffering a mental health crisis. These are the kinds of calls that the public has been saying that police should not be handling since they do not have the training to handle them. Officer usually immediately resort to force. This call is a perfect example of what the public is complaining about. The individual, a man with bipolar disorder, had a pair of scissors and was in distress. There aren’t many details but I suspect he was threatening to harm himself.

LAPD officers arrived at the man’s residence. His Rottweiler was with him. Again, the details are very skimpy. Nothing says the dog charged at the officers but more than likely he began barking at them. At least one officer fired however it was the female police officer who was hit. She was shot in the arm and was taken to the hospital. The dog was also shot and was taken to a veterinarian. The LAPD’s Twitter account said, “It appears the officer was struck by ‘friendly fire’ but that has not been confirmed.” This is kind of humorous since they don’t say there was anyone, other than the officers, who had a gun. Kind of hard to figure out how it could be anything other than friendly fire.

Making a Bad Situation Worse

The man who was having a mental crisis ended up having his situation made massively worse by having officers shooting their weapons, seeing his dog shot and seeing a female police officer shot. There is no way this situation was helpful nor did it have to happen this way. This is why officer should only be at mental health calls only as back-up and should be trained that they are not primary, the mental health experts are. It’s not the officers’ fault. This is not what they are trained to do. But until the various government agencies over the law enforcement agencies start changing how we address mental health situations, things like this will continue to happen.

Obvsious Training Issues

But there’s another aspect of this situation that needs to be mentioned. That an officer was shot means that the officer who was shooting aimed at the dog without regard for who was in the line of fire beyond what the officer was aiming at. That’s a major problem that keeps happening across multiple agencies. Bullets do not disappear if the officer misses his target. We saw that same thing happen here when deputies with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office shot at a suspect who was standing in front of a mobile home, trying to break into it, without considering who might be in that mobile home. The result was the death of 6-year old Kameron Prescott. We need to stop accepting these incidents as “accidents,” they are not. They are the result of either poor training or poor procedures.

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