Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Revisiting the Past, Again and Again.

I've been on the job long enough now that the inevitable happened. I've walked into two domestics at two separate locations this week and found myself momentarily confused. I had the right addresses but the wrong people were there.

I felt the confusion because the rooms were the same, the arguments were the same but new people had moved into the apartments. I've been dealing with the original tenants for too long. I knew their issues and I had an idea of how the calls would go. I'm not a fan of complacency and I know to keep my guard up but seeing new faces with the same familiar arguments in the same surroundings was disconcerting.

I follow current events like a hawk. Incidents like the Aurora, CO shooting frustrate me because, to a large extent, these scenes have played out before and the responses are eerily the same. Cries for gun control and stricter sentencing for those who use guns in crimes. Absent in the media frenzy is the call for more and better mental health care, more funding for that care and training across the board to identify people who are in need of mental health care.

Then there's the refusal to accept that people need to be able to defend themselves when the wolf opens the door.

We all know people in our towns who are just "not right." You might have even told a friend, "if someone's going to go crazy, it'll be him." But when that person acts out, the police have very limited options for dealing with him. Employers and schools often identify the problem employee or student and simply get rid of him. That may be seem to be the right solution for the employer or the school but now the former employee or student becomes society's problem and we don't even know what that problem is, until that problem develops into a crisis.

When the individual acts out, we put him into the system and unless the incident is unusual, a couple of months later, the judge may order some type of counseling as a condition of release. There should be more options when we identify a person with a problem, solutions that help the individual and protect society at the same time.

I don't have a solution to the problem but I see people with mental health issues every day. My fellow officers and I are frustrated because we know we're not able to do enough. If a person isn't an immediate threat to themselves or others, we have little recourse for helping the mentally ill.

 These days, instead of dealing with the problem, governmental cutbacks are reducing the services available to the mentally ill. If, as the founding fathers originally planned, government's first role is to protect its people, we are failing miserably.

Another issue that is being ignored is the insanity of signs, such as the one outside the theater in Aurora, CO, that say, "No Weapons Allowed." First, if the signs were effective, instead of providing a false sense of security, there would be no need for police- just post a sign that says, "No weapons, assaults, robberies, murders, rapes, harassment, bullying, domestic abuse, animal abuse, spitting, swearing or public drunkenness." Obviously, the sign is just that- a feel-safe fluffy, mere words to all but the most gullible.

I use the word insanity because a spree killer looking to have a huge body count or just a wolf looking for victims need only look for a "No Weapons" sign to assure himself he will be the only armed person in the room. Except for the chance a LEO was in the audience and carrying, when that murderer opened the theater door in Aurora, he was assured he was the only one with guns. That sign, displayed to project the safety of the theater, was the opposite, an invitation for the wolf. Insanity.

As I dealt with my domestic, I talked to the male party, a young alcoholic who was on probation for a minor crime and I thought of the number of domestics I'd been to in the same apartment with the last tenants.

The male in the previous couple was also a parolee and an alcoholic, another example of rage in a bottle. I know I'll be back to this address repeatedly, dealing with this couple, as I had with the last, until either the couple moves or something bad happens. I will be back. Again and again.

Because only the players have changed.My only defense against the insanity is I don't expect a different outcome.

Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.Signs in the windows of businesses disarm patrons and guarantee the wolf a safe work environment. Like the problems caused by the alcoholic in my domestic, the problems caused by insanity of a disarmed crowd guarantees an incident such as Aurora, CO will happen again.And again.

My defense against the insanity is I don't expect a different outcome.

Einstein was right. Expecting a different result without changing what we do is insanity. Or, have we accepted the inevitability of the outcome?

Without doing more to deal with mental illness, by behaving as sheep and pretending the wolf does not stalk us, by refusing to recognize evil exists and taking steps to protect ourselves, we guarantee only one thing.

History will repeat itself. Another town, another place, another time, unless we make changes, to this point, we will be back. Again and again.


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