Just this week the Inspector General of the City of Chicago has criticized the Chicago Police Department for among other things, a lack of training for officers assigned to public schools. The big fear is that nascent children will be needlessly subjected to the criminal justice system. They recommended troubled children be directed to special needs groups such as counselors, teachers and parents. No argument with that except under what circumstances -- what type of behavior? Cops are most definitely not the first failure these children endured. But somehow we are not trained to make it all go away. More times than not by the time cops get involved the children have already been the victims of multiple failures.
Failed parenting, failed schools, some suffer from neglect, hunger, continual fear of violence, failed health care, the list is endless. So it's not rocket science to see that when cops get involved the last hand has been washed. Officer Friendly will not do anymore. We somehow need a training course to make it all just go away. The Inspector General has said in essence the last dance is reserved for the cops and specialized training.
Last month Chicago Tribune reporters stunned the City by detailing a wide spread investigative report of Chicago's Public schools, failing to protect students from sexual abuse for decades. The headlines raged for over two weeks and it's still going revealing one horrible incident after another. The series was called "BETRAYED" and rightly so. A school system that pays out almost 20 million annually just to get kids into the schools without being shot or killed cannot protect kids from sexual abuse once they were in school.
The Mayor, principals, teachers and school administrators, all failing miserably for years and years. I'm thinking where was the Inspector General while all this horror was taking place? Not one recommendation of special training, not one word except the cops need better training. The hypocrisy is stunning. Please don't get the idea that cops don't need additional training. In fact it's a profession that needs to constantly upgrade and learn and adapt to the times. However, to be constantly singled out as not having the final solution to all the failures of others is foolishness.
The call for cops to get more training has been the constant drum beat since the Department of Justice released it's report on the Chicago Police Department. The cry for deescalation, crisis intervention, and according to them other important areas. My theme is that when cops finally get involved it is most likely the last stop. No subject better describes that then mental illness. People with mental illness are being routinely abandoned by the mental health system. Without question this too frequently leads to people with untreated severe mental illnesses being injured, incarcerated and sometimes killed by the police. It also too frequently results in the police being injured, or killed by people with mental illnesses.
According to the Treatment Advocacy Center data base of preventable tragedies 115 police officers have been murdered by people who were diagnosed with untreated paranoid schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and PTSD, most who were off their medications for one reason or another. These facts are by no means presented to demonize people with mental illnesses.
The cry from most critics of police behavior and it is certainly understandable is why aren't the cops trained to identify a person suffering from a mental disorder? The logical answer to that is we don't have offices, or couches or willing subjects. When we are involved it's usually instantaneous and often times with little or no time to react. When cops are suddenly confronted by violent behavior the hyperarousal moment suddenly shows itself. Cops are not trained to have the luxury to contemplate the "fight or flee" dilemma, nor will we give into the demands of the attacker. When possible we are trained, if the situation allows deescalation to get the Swat specialists involved, which in fact happens multiple times throughout the years. If not possible it's the proverbial end game so to speak. If the Cops don't get involved then who does.
Oversight for the police is a very good thing. Chicago's department is not exempt from rouge officers and the supervision needs to be the best it can be. Having a department free of politics and mismanagement is a worthy, much needed goal. Ninety-eight percent of Chicago's cops are dedicated servants. We are not defined by those few who you hear about over and over again some of which took place 25 years ago. Since Chicago's cops have been wearing video equipment we have had 100's and 100's of hours of cops on film, getting it right, every single hour of the day. Somehow and we all know why, it's always the controversial one that draws the attention. Sometimes the attention is so massive we tend to judge the other 98% by the actions of a few. Hunter Thompson kinda summed it up, "tomorrow we have to get serious."
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