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Police science - Essay Example

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Summary
Psycho", "Freak", or "Jason from the horror movie", are some of the answers that counselor Habsi Kaba gets from Miami police officers when asked to describe people with mental illness. Such stereotypes are surprisingly common, says Kaba, and not just within law enforcement…
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Download file to see previous pages M.J. Stephey, De-Criminalizing Mental Illness, Time Inc.)
It is also a know fact that, most police officers do not enjoy working with what used to called "mentals". Most prefer to avoid dealing with mental health and psychological emergencies. Up until 1996, Oregon law enforcement recruits were trained in the academy to think of people in "colorful" terms such as "criminals", "know it all's", "busy bodies", and "mentals." The FBI used to train recruits to think of people in terms of "criminals", "crusaders" and "crazies". This use of language has been changed as well. (Michael G. Conner, Use Of Police And 911 For Mental Health And Psychological Emergencies)
Mike, has experienced this first-hand, he is 31 years old and suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Since Mike was 17 years old, the Los Angeles native has been repeatedly arrested during psychosis for nuisance crimes like disturbing the peace, only to serve his time, fall off his medication and get arrested again. On three separate occasions, his hallucinations were so severe he tried to commit suicide by provoking the police to shoot him. Though he is receiving treatment, rising health care costs and declining federal help mean Mike will likely end up in jail again. (M.J. Stephey, De-Criminalizing Mental Illness, Time Inc.)
For example, ninety two percent of the San Francisco police force is not trained to recognize a mental health episode. In fact, the San Francisco Police Department fought fiercely for years against any notion of police crisis intervention training. The San Francisco Police Department was never clear on specific reasons why police crisis intervention training was needed. The Department simply did not think training to recognize mental health episodes was necessary, even though one out of every four persons officers come in contact with a person that suffers with mental illness. In fact, a person who has a mental episode has a better chance of winning the Super Lottery than having a police officer dispatched to the scene of the episode because only 24 police out of 2,200 San Francisco Police Officers have completed the training program that was shoved down the throat of the Department by the Board of Supervisors. (Kaponda, July 2001, POOR Magazine)
Impact of Hurricane Katrina: -
Mental health problems soared after Hurricane Katrina, while New Orleans's ability to handle them plummeted, creating a crisis so acute that police officers say they take some disturbed people to a destination of last resort: jail.
Due to the storm damage, only two of New Orleans' eleven hospitals are fully functioning. What's more, one of the closed facilities is the sprawling Charity Hospital, which police officers had relied on to drop off people at any hour.
James Arey, a psychologist who commands the police crisis negotiation team says that, "You knew they were safe. You knew they would get the care they needed. You don't know either of those things now. People who need medication can't find it or can't afford it, and the storm's aftermath has made life more stressful, as well. Life is hard in this town now."
A federally funded study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization found that mental health problems in the region roughly doubled in the months after Katrina, to 11.3 percent.
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