A neighbor named Ruth reports on social media:
Car with flashing yellow lights. Just saw a car that looked just like a police car in the dark but the bar of lights on top were flashing yellow unlike the usual red and blue. Could this be the new mental health unit? If I were out at night and this car were behind me, I would be afraid to stop.
Another neighbor responds, “Ruth, there is no [separate] mental health unit.”
Ruth is not the only one driven bonkers by the Defund the Police crowd. After all, Madison had enough crazy to elect a guy known as “Mad Max” as alder. Still, Blaska cannot let an opportunity pass without doing his own old-prospector jig out of Treasure of Sierra Madre.
Being Madison, Ruth is entitled to live in her own fantasy world. (AKA “progressivism.”) Instead of the big bad PO-lice, call the new mental health unit. “Hello, mental health unit? A gang is going crazy with their shooting.”
If the reader will pardon a brief interlude of sanity, how does the average citizen know — when summoning assistance (95% of all police interactions are summoned) — whether mental illness is involved? Or substance abuse, for that matter. Unless they are familiar with the individual. In any case, some (certainly not all) mentally ill (and substance abusers) can become violent — a risk to the public, the responding officer, and themselves. Madison police are very adept at sorting out situations that confront them. Read Police Chief Shon Barnes’ daily blotter. They’re always plugging people into the mental health / social services systems.
This misperception may have been fueled by the Defund the Police crowd, who have done a disservice to public safety AND the mentally ill.
Madison police already do mental health
Truth is, for a couple of decades already, Madison police have been ahead of the curve in training its officers on how to respond to mental health crises. MPD is one of only ten Law Enforcement-Mental Health learning sites recognized by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The mission of the Madison Police Department Mental Health Unit is to provide a coordinated, professional and compassionate police response to individuals affected by mental illness and their families. The Mental Health Unit will work collaboratively with partner agencies to achieve improved outcomes for individuals affected by mental illnesses or suffering a crisis by connecting them to needed services and diverting them away from the criminal justice system whenever possible.
But it remains a police response given that, in many cases, the call for response has no idea if it is a mental health issue or not and that, in any case, that crisis could endanger the community as well as the individual. (Which is why outside help is being sought in the first place.)
⇒ MPD responded to at least 9 mental health emergencies over weekend.
Indeed, as the MDP site explains: “Our patrol officers offer the first and most essential layer of service, all of whom receive comprehensive mental health/crisis intervention training through our pre-service academies and departmental in-services.” (The full story.)
Blaska’s Bottom Line: The Defund the Police people need our help.