Mental health should not be handled by law enforcement.

Issues of law enforcement dealing with individuals with mental health concerns have been discussed over the past several years. In fact in the last two years certain scenarios involving the police and street people with mental health problems have been spotlighted because lethal force has been employed to eliminate the threat. Due to the fact, that recent studies have indicated that 1 in 4 Americans suffer from some kind of mental malady, it is sure to increase.

When I was a street cop, I was not happy  getting sent on a call of some individual male or female acting out due to underlying mental health issues. Why, because even though the vast majority of police do not get the requisite training that rises to the level of a psychiatrist or psychologist (nor did I or most of those I worked with care about obtaining the extent of  training necessary to adequately  deal with the mentally ill because we strongly felt mental health workers should be tasked with that job) the vast majority if not all states empower their law enforcement entities to be able to arrest these individuals and place them somewhere usually for a seventy-two evaluation hold if they exhibited signs that they could not longer care for themselves/others, or they were a danger to themselves or others.  If I or my fellow cops were forced into dealing with these individuals, a good portion if not all of our shift was taken up because of the following: (1) If they were hurt, either due to a self-inflicted injury, or one that was caused by someone else, you would have to get them transported to a medical facility for care.(Which in of itself is the proper thing to do.) If the injury was one that kept them in the hospital, then you could move on leaving them in the care of the hospital staff. If it was minor, you got them patched up and then tried to get them into a facility that would take them, which was usually a County Hospital with limited bed space for mental health evaluations. (2) If the subject was intoxicated, and many of them were for a variety of reasons: they need supervised administration of their Meds.,  they either lost them or had a problem getting more, or they did not like the way they made them feel; therefore they self-medicated, you had to place them in a holding facility until they were good enough to be transported to a mental health evaluation facility, which again, are few and far between.  In short, you ended up babysitting this subject for hours. Of course, if the subject was combative, which again many of them were, you would end up arresting them and booking them into jail where the law enforcement tasked with handling prisoners are oftentimes ill-equipped to adequately handle these same individuals.  Unfortunately, our jails and correctional facilities have become our mental health dumping areas. 

Even though the problem of mental health is epidemic and frustrating at the very least, I would like to suggest the following:  Once a call for service comes into dispatch concerning a potential mental health issue, and the responding officer verifies same, a special state or county unit trained in mental health issues takes the call from there; thus freeing up the officer to actually work his or her shift dealing with crime. In fact, it would even be better if the mental health team is contacted first so they can be the primary response vehicle.

Now, I realize that some who read this may get upset because a portion of this commentary may sound rather harsh. Try and look at it from the police officers’ point of view. Yes, we took and oath to protect and serve, but that also pertains to the realm of our training and expertise. If you are one of those that want to work with the mentally ill, my hat is off to you, we need more people like you. Cops need to be available to respond to calls, take care of the issue, and then move on to the next problem, not be charged with the care  of  the mentally ill. The state legislatures in our country need to step up and authorize the funds to work with these people instead of spending millions on the  many Mickey Mouse projects they now throw money at

 

 

 

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There are more solutions to stemming mass shootings than gun control.

Tragically we had another deadly school shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. The shooter in this scenario was described by those who knew him collected a variety of guns and was a quiet, loner with no friends; except of course “those” who reportedly he appeared to associate with on various Internet sites some of whom may have  in some fashion encouraged him in his plan to enter onto his school campus and shoot innocent students on said campus. The latest news reporting also advised he may have gone on web sites that presented information on mass shootings. According to an article in the New York Times, the shooter purchased all his guns legally from either a gun store or other family members. The article went on to indicate that the shooter had issues with  “Christians” and was “suffering from all sorts of self-worth issues.” The article continues by saying that one of the fathers of a female student  advised that prior to shooting his victims the shooter would ask those he confronted if they were Christian. Once he identified that they were he would shoot them. (This was also verified by later news interviews of that same individual.)

So once again, we have a very similar set of circumstances leading to a terrible outcome. We have a loner, who has mental health issues combined with a twisted outlook on a particular topic combined with the use of social media; something that these folks go to for comfort, direction, and a way of having some type of human contact (albeit anonymous) that they so crave. The other factor is that this shooter as have others utilized a group of weapons that he had access to.

Knowing all this, once again President Obama and others in our government immediately goes to the issue of more gun control. I beg to differ. We need more police agencies adopting a greater threat assessment footprint no matter what their size so that when someone does come to them with information about a person like our shooter they can profile the subject and take action. We also need the parents of individuals like these to step up and take action. In short be a parent. If you have a child who presents with a mental disorder as well as a gun collection, that would be a big no, no. I for  one am getting extremely tired of hearing parents, relatives and close associates saying, well I had no idea he was going to use his guns to kill anyone, or he was acting out, but I thought it was just a phase he or she was going through. MENTAL ILLNESS AND GUNS DON’T MIX. If any potential shooter had been found to have mental health issues, and that information was entered into most state’s data bases, the subject attempting to purchase the weapon  would not have been able to legally obtain the guns from an authorized gun dealer. (Unfortunately, even persons who may be construed as a dangerous who seek out mental health treatment  do not get into the system for a variety of reasons. It is unknown if this subject ever was treated for his mental issues; even though he reportedly attended a special school for persons with disabilities. Again, many who eventually commit violent crimes are never treated.)  Then it is up to his relatives to use a little common sense and not sell him a weapon as a private party transaction.

Lastly, and I preach this when I teach all the time. Schools, no matter how safe their administrations think they are, need to hire well-trained armed security personnel. (It is unknown if the campus at this Oregon Junior College had armed security.) There are two reasons for this. One, if armed personnel are conspicuous on campus; statistics have shown that it may well thwart an assailant because most are cowards and don’t want the confrontation so they will move on to another target. Two, if an attack transpires, well-trained security has been shown to defuse the threat in a timely fashion thus reducing or eliminating any casualties. School personnel must also be trained in what to look for while they interact with their students on a regular basis.

We all need to keep in mind that we have numerous individuals in our midst, with or without mental health issues, who are not “political terrorists” who are planning their attacks with the help of the Internet and other factors even in what appears to be the safest communities in our country.

Threat Management and Threat Assessment is the answer to much of this violence not additional gun control.

Yes, we just had another tragic shooting death in the Roanoke area of Virginia. However, what is the first thing, the Governor jumps on; that would be gun control. (In my opinion the vast majority of politicians are clueless when it comes to threat assessment and threat management; therefore they go after the TOOL (in this case a handgun) that was used in the crime. I understand why Alison Parker’s father is pushing for greater gun control instead of actually developing legislation and extensive training generated towards thwarting these horrific crimes at their root base, which is definitely not gun ownership, because he probably has never heard of threat management or threat assessment. (As a father of four and grandfather of five and can well-understand his frustration and need to try and get something done to better impact this growing problem.) Law enforcement as well as mental health need to develop training and teams designed to evaluate potential elements in our society prior to these powder kegs from going of. This would be to uncover the threat (via threat assessment) and once identified develop a threat manage program to eliminate the potential threat.

Besides being a stalking and threat assessment expert, I was also a homicide detective for over thirteen of the 33 years I was in law enforcement. I saw people killed by knives, machete’s, cars, ice picks, hammers, baseball bats, pieces of road asphalt, someones bare hands, as well as guns. (By the way I have seen more than one person killed by other tools than a firearm at a single crime scene.)Funny, I never heard of a politician coming out and proclaiming that we should outlaw butcher knives, or Louisville Sluggers. I know I have said this before, but feel it is extremely important to reiterate it again and again until those who produce our countries laws open their eyes and stop immediately pushing for additional gun control. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the US that purchase firearms, enjoy them, and don’t kill their neighbors, co-workers or random individuals within their communities.

Another huge problem we have in this country is mental health, which we all too often leave up to law enforcement to handle. Again, I will say, cops should not handle those in communities suffering from mental health. They don’t have the requisite training, skills, nor facilities to work with these people.

In Chapter 5 of my latest book, Antidote For A Stalker, on Amazon, I discuss how threat assessment teams can be set up and how well they forestall potential violent crime when they do. LAPD has the TMU (Threat Management Unit) which utilizes threat assessment and threat management as a core set-up in how the case manage stalkers, and other potentially violent offenders. I came from the FPU (Family Protection Unit) which was designed to do primarily the same thing. I am not going to go through all the steps that can be utilized to develop these units protocols. (A blog post on May 14, 2014, Threat Assessment is crucial when dealing with stalkers will have information on how and why we count on these tools to assist our investigators with eliminating the threat. Even though the title has stalking in it, it can pertain to any type of potentially violent crime.) I will say, that not matter how small the agency, threat management can become a vital part of that law enforcement’s community footprint. In short cops have to start becoming a great deal more proactive as well as reactive.

Lastly, It is unknown if Alison Parker and Adam Ward’s television station had a Workplace Violence Team as part of their HR protocol because of what I heard and read concerning the shooter, they definitely knew about his mental health issues, and how it moved him to violence. They also knew he had had a problem with another station he worked with prior. Again, in Chapter 3 of my book Antidote For A Stalker, the issues of Workplace Violence and how to handle it within the confines of the business platform are extensively discussed.

Just like any other law abiding citizen, I want these types of killings to stop. My heart goes out to the relatives and friends of the victims, but until we take on a more pro-active  approach that we know has and will continue to work, this type of violence will continue.

Threat Assessment, not more gun control will assist in an effort to stem tragedies like the AME Church.

This horrific shooting at the Charleston South Carolina AME Church was an act of a mentally disturbed twenty-one year old male, bigot who decided to perpetrate violence on innocent God fearing decent people. The tool he utilized to execute these fine people was in fact a gun. Again, that was the TOOL he used, it was not the reason that this heinous crime took place. However, one of the first things some politicians and pun-dents direct their comments toward in regard to  stemming the tide of these types of crime is the need for greater gun control. When what we actually need is better threat assessment concerning these individuals so they do not commit more of these types of crimes.

I worked as a cop for over thirty-three years. Thirteen of those years I was a homicide detective. I have seen people murdered with guns, knives, swords, clubs, baseball bats, steel pipes, boot heels, forced drowning, strangulation, cement blocks, being run over by vehicles, forced drug overdoses, etc. Yes, a gun is oftentimes the tool of choice for a variety of reasons, but it is the individual who commits the murder that is responsible perpetrating that crime, not the item that is brought to bear to complete the felony assault or homicide.

Our law makers either don’t understand or haven’t been shown that the only way we are going to slow these type of perpetrators down is to develop training and programs within our law enforcement communities directed at threat assessment as well as profiling. Most agencies in the United States and elsewhere do not have any type of threat assessment team, nor do they train line personnel in how to threat assess. Too often when a citizen calls or comes to the front counter of a police department with concerns that may not be construed by law enforcement as a crime, but which eventually may lead to one they are turned away. Instead, there needs to be a system in place where the officer  out in the field or at the station listen, and document in some fashion the information given to them by their citizen contact. That information then needs to be submitted to a detective or unit within the police department tasked with monitoring potential threats.  Once that piece of information comes to the attention of a detective or threat assessment unit, it can compared to any other information on the subject in question. When it looks as though there maybe an issue developing, then that detective or unit can at the very least make contact with the subject, his or her friends, companions and/or relatives to see if there is something that needs to be done. When possible, that same detective or unit should delve into Internet communication. This may require new laws allowing search warrants to obtain this type of information.   In short law enforcement needs to be become a great deal more pro-active as well as reactive. This threat assessment unit or detective should also have some way of working in conjunction with a mental health professional to assist in an evaluation of the potentially lethal individuals in our midst. Besides working homicide and stalkers, I came from a unit known as the FPU, the Family Protection Unit, which had a social worker, a mental health professional, a probation officer, and a domestic violence community case worker assigned to the unit. The Los Angeles Police Department’s TMU (Threat Management Unit) has a very well-trained mental health unit tasked with assisting them on cases. Many of the individuals that commit these violence atrocities have moderate to severe mental health disorders which can and do tend to  exacerbate their violence quotient.

As a public, we all need to become more aware of those that we encounter. We are going to have to become better reporters about something that we see that causes us to feel may be a problem. I strongly believe if law enforcement is more open and responsive to citizen contact, then a greater number who reside  in our communities will make a more concerted effort to come forth.

Some thoughts about stalking and Native American People

Recently, I signed a contract to teach a segment on stalking and threat assessment  for  three of six stalking symposiums produced by the CDAA (California District Attorney’s Assn.) The symposium’s attendees were district attorneys, law enforcement, and victim advocates. Each one of the district attorneys that attended all six  conference was given one of my latest books Antidote For A Stalker as a guide. Due to the fact, that I am part Chocktaw and Chickasaw, I have always been interested in the ways of the Native people not only in North America, but elsewhere in the world, for a variety of reasons not the least of which is the fact that in my opinion this is a segment in all the world that is too often under-served by law enforcement.

One of the presenters for all six of the symposiums was Yeshelle Sparks. Yeshelle is the Tribal Advocate Regional Coordinator for the Inter-Tribal Council, her offices are located in Sonoma County California at the Sonoma County Indian Health Project.

I found Yeshelle’s presentation to be quite interesting. She advised that “American Indian and Native women are stalked at a rate at least twice that of any other race.” She advised that “17%” of American Indian and Alsakan Native Women are stalked in their lifetime, compared to about “8.2%” of white women, “6.5%  of African American” women, and about “4.5% of Asian/Pacific Islander women.”

Yeshelle covered things like tribal sovereignty, the different types of tribal status, and who exactly has claims to being a Native American. She indicated that some of the major problems that transpired with any type of law enforcement intervention within the confines of the tribal community stemmed around law enforcement outside of those confines not understanding that specific tribes traditions and how tribal people responded to the norms and mores of the outside world. She also explained that even within the ranks of those communities that had tribal police, many would stay only a short time because once trained they could find better employment outside of the tribal world, thus creating a void within the response to issues brought up by those being affected by any type of criminal element not just those who were committing the crime of stalking.

From what I have gathered not just from Yeshelle, but other Native American persons that I have encountered while lecturing throughout  California, and elsewhere, is that it is always helpful if the law enforcement entity assigned to handle any Native American or other Native tribal community, try and get up to speed before they try to interdict within the borders of that community. In other words learn what the traditions are. For example, find out who you need to contact first (say an elder or someone who may be the head of the victim’s household; unless of course that is your suspect) before you move in and start your investigation. If you have to move a victim from one place to another check to see if they currently have what Yeshelle referred to as “Regalia,” and how they want it to be handled. (Regalia is usually special ceremonial dress, and or ornamentation worn during a specific ritual, and has to be handled in a specific manner as to not cause issues with its aura for lack of a better term.) These are just some of the things one should be aware of when dealing with not only a Native culture, but any other culture for that matter. We state in our books and other writings that culture always plays a role in how law enforcement should proceed in their investigation of any crime. The more up to speed you are, the greater your chances of positive results.

England and Wales passes a new “Revenge Porn” law

According to a February 12, 2015 BBC Internet News report entitled, ‘Revenge Porn’ illegal under new law in England and Wales, “The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which has a specific amendment dealing with such actions, will receive Royal Assent and become law later.” ” Offenders face up to two years in jail.” That penalty is greater than California’s law 647(j)(4) CPC which was passed back in 2013, but it is very reassuring to see that more and more countries are taking action against this insidious type of behavior. (According to this article Ireland and Scotland are reviewing the problems and may generate their own laws.)

When I lecture concerning the issue of stalking, I am continually warning my attendees: If you get into an intimate relationship; even if you are married, do not have sexually explicit photos or other digital images taken of yourself because they can end up someplace where you do not want them to be. (Of course, after I make the warning, I look out over the audience and see all the smiles, giggles, and wide-eyed expressions telling me that I am already too late my advisement.) When I was first working stalkers they would be found attached to telephone posts or other public places with the name of the victim along with his or her phone number, and other embarrassing comments. Some where sent to the victim’s place of work, or where his or her children when to school. Then there were no laws to protect the victim. One should keep in mind, that even though there may now be legislation in place to go after the perpetrator with the advent of the Internet, once the images are on the net, for the most part they are there forever and have already done damage.

California’s “Revenge Porn” Law.

In 2013, California’s Governor Brown signed into law an amendment to the 647 penal code sections commonly referred to as disorderly conduct. The below listed section is designed to assist the victims of a jilted lover who publishes intimate, identifiable photos or other images of their previous party with the intent to create serious emotional distress is guilty of a misdemeanor.

California Penal Code Section 647(j)(4)) provides as follows:

“any person who photographs or records

by any means

the image of the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person,

under circumstances where the parties agree or understand that the image shall remain private,

and the person subsequently distributes the image taken,

with the intent to cause serious emotional distress,

and the depicted person suffers serious emotional distress,

….is guilty of disorderly conduct…”

Stalkers will also utilize this type of behavior to demean their targets. Some use the images to blackmail their victims into having sex or gaining some other advantage. If you go to the site listed below you will see an article about a successful prosecution of a “revenge porn” subject in Los Angeles County. Apparently, there are some litigators that feel this law may be found unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates First Amendment rights. We will watch to see how that all plays out.

http://atty.lacity.org/stellent/groups/electedofficials/@atty_contributor/documents/contributor_web_content/lacityp_029467.pdf

When I lecture concerning the issue of stalking, I am continually warning my attendees: If you get into an intimate relationship; even if you are married, do not have sexually explicit photos or other digital images taken of yourself because they can end up someplace where you do not want them to be. (Of course, after I make the warning, I look out over the audience and see all the smiles, giggles, and wide-eyed expressions telling me that I am already too late my advisement.) When I was first working stalkers they would be found attached to telephone posts or other public places with the name of the victim along with his or her phone number, and other embarrassing comments. Some where sent to the victim’s place of work, or where his or her children when to school. Then there were no laws to protect the victim. One should keep in mind, that even though there may now be legislation in place to go after the perpetrator with the advent of the Internet, once the images are on the net, for the most part they are there forever and have already done damage.

By the way, Arizona also recently passed a “Revenge Porn” law. I am sure more and more states will follow suit due to the fact that it is such a looming problem.

Infinity Tattoo

Sometimes those of us who work with very serious topics need to look around and just take a breath.

Yesterday, like most days, I walked into my local Starbucks. I have always liked this place because almost as soon as I open the front door they call out my name, and yell out, “Same,” as I nod my head yes, my drink of choice is marked, placed in line with the others ahead of me, or already made before I can pay for it. As I paid, I happened to look over towards one of the female baristas that seems to always be up, cheerful, and bubbly, which in my world is a great change of pace. Her hair, which is usually down covering her neck was pulled to one side exposing a large infinity tattoo on the back of her neck. I inquired as to the artwork. She smiled, twirled around and said, “first of all, I just like the symbol, it reminds me of how insignificant we are in this entire Universe.” I thought for a moment and then replied, “and just how much we should forget that we are not the center of that Universe!” She giggled, and agreed as she went back to fulfilling her other customer’s requests. I walked out feeling a whole lot better than when I walked in. Funny what a venti black iced tea in a trenta cup with extra ice and no sweetener can do when it is served by someone that has figured out how to approach the daily grind of life much better than you have.

Digital-Trust & others like Working to halt online abuse, WHOA, are good sites for information on cyber-stalking.

Jennifer Perry and her group at Digital-Trust work hard to bring information to those victimized by stalkers and others in the cyber-world.  In their website, under the section Our Work they express, “Digital-Trust brings together technologies and professionals working with victims and vulnerable people to understanding evolving risks and address digital abuse.”

WHOA (Working to halt online abuse), Jayne Hitchcok-President, is also another site where you can gather a great deal of information on cyber-stalking.

Cyber crimes in general are growing exponentially; however, cyber-stalking is continuing to cause untold misery for those that end up at the end of a stalker’s mouse.

See new U-tube post: Stalking Detective’s advice to victims

We have finally started to post stalking information and advice on U-tube. Our first posting: Stalking Detective’s advice to victims, is about 18 minutes long, but gives the viewer and general overall view of stalking, and where they can gather further information. In the next few months we will doing other shorter video clips on stalking topics such as campus and juvenile stalking as well as others. We recommend you view this one and look for future clips. Hopefully they along with our latest book Antidote For A Stalker will greatly assist you, and perhaps those you work with.