Mental-health training for police officers could save lives, according to an article posted on www.ColorLines.com, the news site of Race Forward, a nonprofit racial justice organization. The article cites The Washington Post’s Fatal Force Database, claiming that a quarter of the 619 people have been killed by police this year were mentally ill. These deaths could have been avoided if the officers had been trained to better handle the mentally ill.
Mental illness is not a subject to be taken lightly, but neither can it be an excuse. The Database posts short profiles of these mentally ill victims – one was wielding a sword, one a toy gun, one a knife, one an ax, one with a machete, and many more with guns. Ask yourself – if it was you in the officer’s shoes, what would you do? Without knowing all the details of these cases, it’s difficult to say if the action taken was the right one.
Those dealing with mental problems are not thinking rationally and may act in ways they normally wouldn’t. But the behavior isn’t obvious – this is why mental illness training can definitely benefit both parties.
The article states that police need to also help themselves by receiving treatment for PTSD and job-related stress. Knowing when to get help will reduce the chances of rash decisions and impulsive actions.
The main point is that mental illness can play a huge role in a person’s actions on both sides. Being more aware and educated about mental health can potentially save a lot of lives.