We have a very sick young man, who has been catatonic or near-catatonic for two months. We lost our first attempt to get authorisation to treat him against his will, we succeeded on our second try. He became animated (for him) speaking in complete sentences, though very slowly, tearfully pleading with the doctor not to give him medication*. When the psychiatrist explained what meds would be offered orally that evening, and which ones given by injection if he refused he collapsed to the floor. An hour later he suddenly leaped up into a place with a dropped ceiling and hoisted himself up into it. There is an entire second floor beyond the ceiling, but he thought he might find some way of escaping there. It was very sudden. The person sitting next to him on 1:1 did not lay a finger on him on his way into the ceiling.
It's dangerous up there, with plumbing, electrical wires, ductwork with sharp edges, and God-knows-what to breathe. He started rapidly crawling in the mostly dark, even running at a crouch along some ductwork. When he came to the cement drywall he kicked it in with some effort and went into the next area, harder to reach from below (though with no possible exit from the building.) We call the fire department in a few similar situations of patients wedging themselves into an area or getting into an unusual part of the building. They in turn call the State Police who have some specific training in various building excavation. It took hours, but they got him down with only minor injuries, to his feet where he kicked the wall, and some scrapes on his back.
I mention this because they spoke to him very calmly, were entirely patient, were concerned for his safety at all times. They would not tase him because they felt the risk was he might fall out of the ceiling to the floor if not conscious. Once he was partly-pulled, partly persuaded to come down to the floor and immediately headed toward a locked door, roughly shoving others out of his way and butting them, they did tase him. No damage.
So what is all this training in dealing with the mentally ill that the police supposedly don't have? Their detractors speak as if they are somehow the first ones to think of the idea that maybe a social worker or two might be a good thing. (Facepalm: Mental health specialists! Jim, why didn't we think of that?) Frankly, the police call on social workers all the time, and social workers call on them. We have mental health courts and drug courts in NH, which are generally a very good thing. So maybe we need more, that's fine. Maybe other places don't have so many, and need to put them in place. All a good thing, to my mind.
I have also seen the police acting badly and heard a good deal more secondhand, some of it credible. I'm not claiming otherwise. It's just this idea that nobody knows anything, with people arriving on the scene last Tuesday suddenly acting like experts.
Walk a mile in my shoes. Or police shoes.
*He is particularly extreme in his good response to medication. When treated he holds down a part-time job, has hobbies, and takes art and photography courses at the local college.