Police Shootings and the Mentally Ill


The fatal shooting of a mentally ill homeless man in Escondido this week comes at a time when there already are lots of questions and concerns about policing, about the mentally ill and about what to do about all of it.

The police chief in Escondido says the man had been arrested nearly 200 times since 2002 on charges that included “violent assaults on police and the public, parole violations, drug charges, vandalism and a host of other property crimes.” The chief also said the police department’s Psychiatric Emergency Response Team had made numerous attempts to get the man into the mental health system.

As the chief was releasing the details of what happened, a congressional committee was holding a hearing on how to deal with how police deal with the mentally ill who can sometimes be dangerous to others and themselves.

As a spokesman for the Escondido-based Interfaith Community Services put it to the San Diego Union Tribune: “We really need to provide mental health specialists to be able to prevent these sorts of things from happening.”

While that should be the goal, it’s not going to be an easy problem to solve, but everyone should be working to do it.

(Photo reporting partner 10News)

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