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Submitted by Peter on Fri, 03/23/2012 - 08:34
Would you agree that every individual deserves to be treated equally? What about when it comes to law enforcement?
Over the years many officers have been put in the difficult situation of arresting or encountering an individual with a serious mental health issue and unfortunately, some have not had the proper training to handle it.
Early this year, 29-year-old, Michael Eligon, was shot down by Toronto Police Officers after fleeing Toronto East General Hospital and walking through a neighbourhood unsure of his surroundings.
Eligon, who had been waiting for his foster mother to pick him up from the hospital, fled the hospital, got into an altercation with a clerk at a nearby convenience store and then wandered into a neighbourhood with two pair of scissors he had taken from the convenience store. When police arrived on the scene, their lack of training or knowledge of how to dissolve this type of situation left them with no choice but to use extreme force. Eligon was shot three times by police officers and passed away in the hospital shortly after.
Is the two-day mental health training that Toronto Police go through enough to properly handle these kinds of situations?
Perhaps the officers were in danger, but there must be other ways to diffuse these types of situations without the result being loss of life.
While some police forces have specified training on how to properly handle a delicate situation regarding somebody with a serious mental health issue, it is not mandated training for all forces. Toronto, as well as other forces, should make it a priority to get this training. Every year millions of dollars are spent on answering to, and dealing with situations concerning mental health.
The proper training for not only on how to approach the situation but the most effective things to say and do can not only make dealing with the problem easier, but can have a much better outcome for all who are involved.
And it’s certainly not entirely the police officer’s fault. The way mental health issues are treated and viewed across the globe doesn’t make it easy to comprehend for anybody and I’m sure many of us wouldn’t know the proper way to handle a similar altercation in the heat of the moment.
Perhaps we all just need more education when it comes to mental health, or perhaps the proper guidance on how to find the information needed to better understand it.
What do you think of this topic? Are the police doing the best they can, or is there a better way? How can we support them in their work?