It’s becoming more apparent to me that when someone calls in a wellness check, it’s not too uncommon for officers to arrive with their guns drawn. I’m not sure approaching someone going through a mental crisis with your gun drawn is the best way to go about it. As history has shown, a situation that would normally call for calming someone down becomes suicide by cop.
Drylie, who as an officer had a rifle pointed at him as he conducted a check on an individual reported to be suicidal, conceded that an aggressive police intervention would often only escalate a difficult situation — “Those situations always turn out to be very, very bad,” he said. But Drylie believes that police need to be there when a suicidal person is posing a threat to others, whether family or mental health professionals, and argued for better training, rather than removing police from wellness checks altogether.
“Really, one of the best ways to be prepared for all that is through training,” he said, citing costs as a reason why so many departments aren’t better equipped to handle mental health crises. “I don’t think we do a good enough job.”
There is no question that police too often resort to violence in situations that call for de-escalation, but the state of mental health services across the country is equally to blame, experts argue.
Manning’s video isn’t even the worst example of this. Here in Chicago, a dad called Chicago PD to get some assistance in calming down his son (he had a mental disorder). When the police arrived, they shot his son and a neighbour dead. Their excuse was that the kid was coming down the stairs with a bat in his hand. I understand that bats are dangerous as heck, but there seems like there could be more deescalation steps between “arrive on scene” and “kill person and bystander”.