Shooting the mentally ill

Police shouldn’t be the first responders when the obvious problem is mental illness. There’s a better way than shoot-to-kill. Someone close to me was once homeless and seriously unhinged because she went off her meds. A psychiatric intervention with a mandatory 72 hour hold worked. It gave her the wake-up call she needed and she’s now completely turned her life around.

According to a witness, Alpizar frantically ran down the aisle of the American Airlines plane, flailing his arms, while his wife tried to explain that he was mentally ill and had not taken his medication.

Air marshals confronted Alpizar and ordered him to get on the ground. They said he did not comply, and was shot.

He showed no weapons, his wife said he was off his meds. Did it have to end this way? And I bet police also wish situations like this were handled by mental health professionals and not by them.

Update: The LA Times this morning has a front page photo showing all the other passengers forced to walk off the plane with their hands on their heads. They’re criminals too? The air marshalls knew only one person was crazed, yet they treated everyone like a potential terrorist.

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  • Tam Alleva

    When my youngest son became suddenly and dramatically mentally ill ten years ago, we were treated we were treated with such hostility and disrespect by local law enforcement that I predicted that we would live to see the day when mentally ill people were routinely executed, just as in Hitler’s day. Now, I think we were not far from that reality.
    There must be many hundreds of thousands on moms and dads, brothers and sisters and wives and husbands of the chronically mentally ill who are wondering if their loved one will be next.
    The mentally ill are the lepers of our times–the lack of resources given them a reflection of the moral illness of our society.

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