19 (at least) And Counting

“A 36-year-old British Columbia man has died in hospital more than four days after being subdued by RCMP officers with a Taser and nearly every other available weapon except firearms.” CBC (CDN)

In this case, I am willing to concede that the Taser might not have been the exact cause of death. I doubt it helped, though.

It seems that many of the Tasered people have had mental health issues. Police claim that they are “trained” to deal with people with mental health issues. However, given the number of people exhibiting signs of being in the midst of a psychiatric crisis who have been taken down by either a Taser or violent force (or both), it seems that their methods need reviewing.

It’s easy to pass the buck on this and blame the person who is, because of a mental health issue, becomes violent for their own misfortune, Many of these events could have been prevented with better crisis intervention for people with mental health problems, better monitoring, better management of Canada’s mental health system.

… and by extension, when the system fails, a better ability to recognise and respond appropriately to people in the middle of a crisis without it ending up with them ending up battered…. or dead.

We have SWAT teams in most cities, as well as hostage negotiators, and other specialty branches within most police forces. Surely to God, taking the extra two minutes to evaluate a situation and call in people trained properly to deal with the mentally ill would not be too much of a stretch, either in personal or in finances. Considering the cost of inquiring into every handling of a serious injury or death to someone who was clearly in crisis it seems to me a small price to pay to prevent rather than pick up the pieces afterwards.

Considering the fact that most of the recent deaths have involved people who were in crisis with either a long-standing mental health issue or some sort of mental health crisis, brought on by other circumstances, I think it is high time that consideration should be given to better train police and to reassess the mental health system.

1 Comment

  1. cadambrowitz said,

    January 14, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Wow 19 deaths that is very sad. But what is even more tragic are the mentally ill who die because hospitals send them home after 48 hrs. I encourage you to read Vancouver Police Report — Lost in Transition– 2008-2009

    I have a simple solution that could vastly reduce the number of deaths, accidents, and cost of dealing with none compliant mentally ill people. It is called a proactive treatment plan. But does government listen. I have done a letter writing campaign since Aug 2009 and nothing so fair.

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