Again today, the news flashed a picture of a gentleman who was mentally ill and homeless who was maltreated by the police in Florida. Body cam footage showed the officers throwing him to the ground …
Again today, the news flashed a picture of a gentleman who was mentally ill and homeless who was maltreated by the police in Florida. Body cam footage showed the officers throwing him to the ground and savagely beating him. Then, because he was so battered and bruised, the officers just took off, leaving him in the street. When he was found by a passer-by, he required intensive hospitalization.
Being a police officer is a difficult occupation, and this event should in no way reflect upon the brave men and women who take their jobs seriously. In fact, in my experience with the Warwick police, I have found them to be professional yet caring, going above and beyond to assist those with mental health issues. When my adoptive daughter, Marie, first came to live with us after being severely abused for the first seven years of her life, she had several incidents where she became self-abusive and combative while experiencing a post-traumatic stress episode. Crawling into a tight spot, generally under a table, she would become self-abusive. She has swallowed a whole box of staples, tried to hang herself with the cord hanging down from the blinds, and cut herself with remnants of a wooden box. She was literally “out of her mind”, dissociative and non-responsive.
These incidents most likely would have continued causing her additional physical harm except for the arrival of police and EMTs. They would bravely pull her out from her hiding place despite her forceful kicks and shrieking screaming. It would take at least four large, strong professional people to restrain her and, even when she was eventually secured with restraints on the gurney, she would be spitting, scratching, biting, and grabbing at them, trying to get them to let her go.
In her mind, she was reliving being abused, and she was doing her darndest to get away. Once, they mistakenly used cloth restraints and she chewed through them like a rabid animal in order to release an arm so she could continue the fight to get away. This horrifying behavior would only cease at the hospital after a doctor would give her a shot of a strong sedative, such as Haldol. At that point, her body would go limp, and she would lie motionless with the exception of a few slight tears falling down her cheeks.
She did not choose to act out in that way, her mentally ill mind simply took over her body and gave her super-human powers to try to escape, something which she had never been able to do when she was so severely abused as a toddler and young child. The episodes were horrendous to live through, and I sincerely thank all the brave men and women who have dealt with her mental health issues in the past. I am relieved to say that those serious, self-abusive occurrences are over, although PTSD issues still plague her time to time as an adult.
My brother, Curtis, who had so many physical disabilities due to Rubella Syndrome, became schizophrenic at the age of eighteen. He believed that men from outer space were after him, and he could be seen ducking imaginary spaceships on a regular basis or laughing hysterically for no reason.
Unfortunately, medication did not work for him. He was picked up by the police on several occasions, including once when he walked to the Providence Place Mall barefoot in the snow to meet a spaceship. His mental health issues were always front and center in his run-ins with the police, and, without exception, they were always kind and understanding in their response.
One of our neighbors, in a bi-polar hyper-mania rant, stood naked on the front step of his house lamenting the state of world affairs. The police promptly arrived with an officer obviously trained in dealing with people with mental health issues. Although he was talking aggressively and violently, she calmly talked him down and accompanied him into his house while he put some clothes on. She then rode with him in the ambulance to Butler Hospital where medication was prescribed to smooth out the highs and lows.
The national news loves to publicize incidents where police officers act inappropriately, but rarely, if ever, publicize the good acts of the other 99.99%. I, for one, would like to thank all of the police and first responders for doing the difficult job that they do.
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