Commission: Police Should Include Consumers/Survivors in De-escalation Training

Rob Wipond
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Some police academy instructors in Canada still teach police that the use of force is “almost inevitable, and even recommended” when dealing with an “irrational” person, according to a new report from the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The report was released at this week’s Canadian police chiefs conference, writes Douglas Quan on Canada.com, and “also found that while officers are getting better trained about mental illness, many agencies are failing to include people with mental illness in the development and delivery of that training.”

The Commission report states, “If one were to draw an analogy with, for example, training in regard to cultural diversity, it would be as if a police academy were providing training in regard to cultural, racial and religious sensitivity without consulting any cultural or ethnic groups.”

One of the report’s main recommendations is, “That police learning be designed and delivered by a combination of police personnel, adult educators, mental health professionals, mental health advocacy organizations and people living with mental illness.”

Mental health report calls for better police training in ‘de-escalation’ techniques (Canada.com, August 27, 2014)

MHCC Report Outlines Training and Education Recommendations to Improve Interactions between Police and People with Mental Illness (Mental Health Commission of Canada Press Release, August 27, 2014)

TEMPO: Police Interactions – A report towards improving interactions between police and people living with mental health problems (Mental Health Commission of Canada, August 20, 2014)

13 COMMENTS

  1. For starters turn off all the flashing lights usually all the irrational behavior is driven by anxiety and all these vehicles parked all over lighting up the neighborhood flashing and strobing serves no valid purpose whatsoever at all and only increases the anxiety of the person having a crisis.

    We had a resident threatening suicide so police and EMT came, I can’t understand why they insist on lighting up the entire neighborhood like that, making the scene look chaotic and alarming. And why the bad parking ? No need for a chaotic looking crooked block up half the street parking job to go with the vehicle light show that attracted 20 onlookers that I can think of.

    I guess it’s a case of “that’s the way we have always done it” thinking. We always leave the strobing lights on and park all stupid.

    And why the big diesel ladder truck ? Is the person in crisis going to climb a tree and get stuck like a kitten ?

  2. Family of Michelle Cusseaux wants independent investigation into police shooting…

    http://www.google.com/search?q=+Michelle+Cusseaux

    This is evidence of why police should not be in the business of capturing customers for the dirty mental health industry. This woman was in her own home and committed no crimes.

    She threatened Southwest behavioral health when they tried to coerce her into receiving human rights violating “help”.

    Here is an example of how just the thought of going to the psychiatric abuse centers called help got a man killed by police,

    “The officers, two women and a man, initially were able to calm Simmons after they were summoned to the Maryhaven Center of Hope facility, a tidy, two-story house with brown shingles and black and white trim in suburban Middle Island. But when they told Simmons they were taking him to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, he began kicking and punching them, Fitzpatrick said.” http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/07/25/man-tased-by-suffolk-police-dies-following-altercation/

    I am sure both these people above had previous experience with “help” and that was the reason they put up a fight.

    And how about this, it may sound trivial to someone who has never suffered panic attacks from hell or suicidal depression but now the self proclaimed experts on mental health are advocating non smoking policies for people subjected to inpatient psychiatry.

    As trivial as it may sound their is without a doubt a body count as a result of these no smoking policies as its one more reason for people to avoid the hospital, fight going, try to tough it out alone or just go get one more bottle of vodka in hopes of feeling better because “If I goto the hospital I can’t smoke and will totally bug out (again)”. That’s the way people think.

    Smoking is legal in the USA but of course the mental health industry cares little about things like “legal” , civil rights and freedoms.

    Police can not take all the blame for the way people react and threaten their safety when they have to come to take them for “treatment” in these hell holes.

    Psychiatric Coercion and Restraint – YouTube http://youtu.be/2ifitvaIe7k

    • During my ridiculous 2 weeks on a ward, we were given vaporizers. According to the box, they need to be replaced every hour, but they can last a lot longer than that. It seemed like they wanted smokers to get a new one every hour. I wonder what the mark up was.

      There is no reason for smokers and users of nicotine products to be denied nicotine out of paternalism— OH, now they’re worried about health— the most useful and every day drug in psychiatry is nicotine.

    • Great points you’re making :).
      “Police can not take all the blame for the way people react and threaten their safety when they have to come to take them for “treatment” in these hell holes.”
      Nothing to add really. Why can’t people understand that the very act of bringing someone who committed no crime to psych hospital against his/her will is violence and violation of liberty and causes people to behave defensively, which for some folks includes violence? And that seems pretty understandable, especially when it’s not only detention but also forced physical exam, strip search, drugging and other niceties.
      If anyone is delusional in this situation is people who claim that psychiatric patients who “attack” staff (which in many cases means “dare to defend themselves when attacked”) are aggressive solely because of their “mental illness”.

  3. We can also thank the pharma front group NAMI for some of these problems with police, wile posing as grassroots and advocating for police training they are the ones advocating for removal of patient rights, laws to force drug rape (forced penetration with a needle) both behind locked doors locked doors and in peoples homes.

    NAMI takes millions from the pharmaceutical industry each year to promote the increased use of psychotropic drugs, and lobbies for laws allowing people accused of mental illness to be forced to take it’s sponsor’s drugs. The drugs most often prescribed for involuntary patients — Janssen’s Risperdal (risperidone) and Lilly’s Zyprexa (olanzapine) .

    They will tell the public “its all about prevention” as they do everything in their power to stick up for psychiatric abuses of human rights and but they can’t seem to figure out that the human rights abuses they advocate for are the major reason it takes police to get a person into the abuse centers called help in the first place.

    They are also the ones pushing smoking bans inpatient wile they have the audacity to call themselves “advocates” and the voice of the mentally ill. NAMI is entirely ran by the pharmaceutical industry. In the case of Lilly, at least, “funding” takes more than one form. For a wile Jerry Radke, a Lilly executive, was “on loan” to NAMI, working out of the organization’s headquarters. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1999/11/prozacorg

    Anyway the police are in a real jam until someone cleans up the abuses behind the locked doors of psychiatry cause as I have tried to point out many people fight “help” for a reason.

    • “they can’t seem to figure out that the human rights abuses they advocate for are the major reason it takes police to get a person into the abuse centers called help in the first place.”

      Interestingly, it happened to me during a crisis that I had to deal with police and it was actually a very nice policewoman who warned me against calling the ambulance and going to the hospital (I was so desperate that I considered it at the time). She was basically like “I don’t think you want us to do that” and she spend something like 1h to talk me down. In fact she was the most “qualified” person to deal with a person in crisis, which can’t be said about any “professional” I have dealt with – they were all aggressive, some possibly because they looked at me (small woman who never had any weapon around them or threatened them with anything) as a horribly dangerous person. Talk to me about projection… I think if someone is afraid of his/her patients, especially little unarmed females, then they should change a job. I’ve heard gardening is less stressful.

      “call themselves “advocates” and the voice of the mentally ill”
      Thanks a lot but we can advocate for ourselves if they stop drugging us and locking us up.

  4. In all honesty, it made perfect sense for the police to pick me up and take me to the hospital in response to my psychotic episode. If the best friend I ever had couldn’t reel me in, then no one could. The officers had to bounce me off the hood a couple of times before they had me under control. They didn’t expect a woman in her fifties to be so strong and slippery and clearly didn’t feel good about the force they used. I caught them completely off guard while it was their job to restrain me while I was spending more time in an altered and unreal state than being present and fully conscience of what was happening around me. I wasn’t particularly combative; but I was a whole lot more involved with what was going on in my head than what was going on for everyone else.

    The guys who worked at the convenience store pleaded with me because they didn’t want to call the police. Later, when I asked my friend who called the police, he started apologizing because he did. I told him he did the right thing and thanked him. It wasn’t safe for ME to be running around while barking mad.

    It was when I was coming down in the tank and trying to take stock of what had just happened— my first episode of psychosis— that unnecessary force was used, IMO. Though I was struck by the bruises on my body because I had never been manhandled like that before, I didn’t blame the police and still don’t. I was lucky, but I’m betting that’s not exceedingly rare.

    Training is great for the police and people in a psychotic episode who are picked up by the police, and there’s always room for improvement– but I think it’s important to also recognize that it’s sometimes the best anyone could do to restrain a person in the throes of psychosis and it can be in that person’s best interest at the time.

    • @ wileywitch,

      I appreciate your sharing that experience, but it raises many question in my mind.

      For example, I’m wondering, what sort of disturbance were you causing that led your friend to call the police? (Were you ‘disturbing the peace’ in some way?)

      And, as you’re referring to that experience, as what you call your “first episode of psychosis,” and you explain that, “unnecessary force was used” by the police… and then conclude by stating, “…I think it’s important to also recognize that it’s sometimes the best anyone could do to restrain a person in the throes of psychosis and it can be in that person’s best interest at the time,” …reading all that leads me to wondering, were you also forcibly drugged? (I’m guessing you were, because I believe forced drugging is the standard form of ‘care’ for most people who are arrested and said to be “psychotic”.)

      Also, I wonder, as you now look back to that time, when your friend was calling the police, do you believe you were delusional?

      I’m guessing you probably believe that you were delusional, because, almost certainly, you realize that, technically speaking, every psychosis is characterized by some supposed delusion(s).

      I.e., according to standard definitions of ‘psychosis,’ delusion(s) must be present; there’s no ‘psychosis’ if there’s no delusion(s).

      So, finally, I’m wondering: If, looking back to that time, you do believe you were delusional, do you believe you were so very delusional that, in lieu of calling the police, literally no kind gesture from anyone could have led you back to a relatively self-controlled (and, perhaps, even peace-loving) state of mind?

      Of course, you needn’t answer any of my questions.

      Just wanted to convey my curiosity.

      Respectfully,

      Jonah

    • I don’t see how custodial care, imprisonment, can ever be in a person’s best interest. If your altered state wasn’t quasi-illegal, the cops wouldn’t keep busting people for it. Drug users get there by preference, after all, and they are very good at concealing the fact from others, including the police, at least, in many instances.

      Less than random acts of violence by frustrated young men have become the standard excuse to target school children for psychiatric labeling and drugging. This ineffectual violence prevention crusade, and ridiculous excuse for “treatments”, is creating an epidemic. (More business as far as mental health professionals are concerned.) Many of those people so drugged are going to experience their own altered state. Many of them are likely to experience a mental health bust, and a change of drug as well.

      Imprisoning people for not thinking clearly is not, in my opinion, the best strategy to take. Legalize disorganized thought patterns, and there you go, tolerance rules the world once again. Even a surrealist could reveal his or her mind. As is, one has to be very careful indeed. Deviant thought and action is, by the powers that be, accounted a quasi-medical quasi-crime.

  5. I was taken to a hospital by a policeman for lying in a park in Chicago, minding my own business, staring up at the clouds. I will confess I was at the time trying to mentally come to grips with the extreme betrayal and abuse I’d dealt with by former doctors, since I’d just finished chronologically typing up my medical records and medical research. The last thing I needed, at that point, was to deal with more doctors.

    I was given a physical, despite the fact I’d politely declined medical care. It resulting in a “medically clear” diagnosis, according to those medical records. No HIPPA forms were signed, since I had politely declined medical care. The doctor broke the HIPPA laws, and medically unnecessarily shipped me a long distance back to a doctor who had “snowed” me three years prior, based upon this “medically clear” diagnosis.

    I was forcibly medicated for a just proven non-existent UTI. Why are fictional UTI cases being treated in mental health facilities and resulting in forced hospitalizations? Oh, they eventually, for billing purposes, concluded I suffered from “adjustment disorder.” I guess I’ll say it is hard to adjust to a society where doctors all collude to defame and murder kind organ donors so they may cover up “bad fixes” on broken bones and medical evidence of sexual abuse of little children.

    I think the doctors should get out of the business of aiding and abetting child molesters and stop creating “mental illnesses” in people with their drugs to cover up their “bad fixes” on broken bones. And I’m quite certain the police should be used for more appropriate things than taking people to hospitals because they are lying quietly in a park looking at the clouds.

  6. Disclaimer: I *never* condone excessive force by police.

    To me–the tenor of this short article goes against the main point MIA is trying to get across: “Mental health” is not an all-around valid lens through which to view any individual.

    If a person is acting illegally, let her be detained / arrested/ appropriately dealt with. If she is not, leave her alone, no matter how much her behavior “bothers” others…

    Saying someone “has a mental illness” is not a reason to judge their actions as “irrational.”

    Further, my favorite articles on this site are ones that affirm a person’s *choices* as dictating their life instead of mysterious “chemical imbalances…” Illegal activity should be punished as such, no matter what one’s “diagnosis” has been… (More-or-less, the only instance in which activity that breaks the law should not be fully prosecuted, in my opinion, is the presence of being “under the influence,” in which case this article should be about substance abuse, not “mental health.”)

    On the other hand, if a person’s behavior is simply deemed unusual by on-lookers *or even family members,* he should in no way be coerced to alter anything or be removed anywhere.

    All-in-all, the “mental health professionals” the report wants law enforcement to consult–along with the use of terms like “people with mental illness”–are likely only to perpetuate discriminatory falsehoods against individuals that others have a reason 2 want to enfeeble…