The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Crazy People Are Dangerous

Posted on | July 14, 2023 | Comments Off on Crazy People Are Dangerous

The de-institutionalization of the mentally ill has been a disaster for American society. Many cities are plagued by homeless encampments largely populated by people who would probably be better off locked up in a psych ward, but the state mental asylums got shut down decades ago, and the healthcare system doesn’t have enough facilities to deal with all the kooks and addicts out on the streets. Even when someone is clearly a danger to themselves and others, keeping them institutionalized is difficult. So the cops find themselves confronted by lunatics who do obviously suicidal things like charge at them with hatchets:

Chesterfield’s police chief calls for changes within our mental health system after he says it failed Charles Byers, who was shot and killed by police Saturday, July 8.
Byers’ death occurred just days after he was taken to into a mental health hospital. Chesterfield police say a temporary detention order (TDO) was issued for the 34-year-old.
His father tells NBC12 the family admitted Charles on July 5 after they realized he was experiencing a mental health crisis. He went to an area hospital, but the next day he was charged with battery on a healthcare worker.
He was given a court date for General District Court in Manchester but never showed up.
“This is every family’s nightmare when a family member is in a mental health crisis and clearly needs help, and the family does everything that they can to obtain that help,” NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin said.
NBC12 received the arrest warrant, and Benjamin says it looks like the magistrate released Byers. He says with a TDO, Byers should have been ordered to be returned to the facility after his arrest, not released.
“It appears that this individual was released, probably because of just a failure of communication, which is exactly what the law tries to prevent. Nobody wants this to happen,” Benjamin said.
It’s a miscommunication that cost a life. Benjamin says we do not know enough if anyone is at fault.
“It may very well have been that the Richmond Sheriff’s Department did not know that he was under a temporary detention order,” Benjamin said. “If he was took before a magistrate who also may not have known that there was a TDO, so he’s released by the magistrate. If the deputy did not know that he was under an order to be returned to the facility, then it would not have been the deputy’s fault.”
Following his release, Byers went to a Chesterfield neighborhood Saturday.
Officers say he had a hatchet and tried to get into homes, and police were then called to the scene. Police say after trying to de-escalate the situation, Byers charged at them, which is when police shot him.
Benjamin says the purpose of a TDO is to keep someone safe who may not realize they need help or may not realize they could be a harm to themselves and others.
“This is what has Chesterfield police calling for change in the system,” Chief of Police Col. Jeffrey Katz said in a statement. “Our mental health system failed Mr. Byers, his family, our community, and my officers. I feel compelled to speak on behalf of their interests and to support the needs of those in crisis, their loved ones, and the professionals who dedicate their lives to aiding people in need.”
Katz calls our country’s mental health infrastructure shameful, saying in his part, “Virginia has made overt strides to address this problem in recent years, but substantive changes must come faster. Lives are at stake.”

Whatever happened to straitjackets and padded cells and Thorazine? Back in the day, someone “experiencing a mental health crisis” would have gotten such treatment, especially if their behavior included “battery on a healthcare worker.” A hatchet-wielding lunatic is prowling around your neighborhood? Call the cops. What happens if the lunatic charges at the cops? BANG! BANG! BANG! Problem solved. Maybe this wasn’t what the ACLU had in mind when they pushed for de-institutionalization back in the 1970s, but as a treatment for someone “experiencing a mental health crisis,” police gunfire has the advantage of being permanent.

Have I mentioned lately that Crazy People Are Dangerous?



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