Mentally ill seniors and law enforcement.

Last year, I read about a mentally ill woman in her 70s's-- dementia. She was injured by law enforcement because she shoplifted something. She ended up in hospital as result of the encounter.

Today, I read about Armando Norveijas from El Paso. He was 70 and also with dementia. He was reported missing by his family. Several hours later, he was on his porch when cops responded to a neighbor's complaint. 

He was tased ON HIS BACK and face planted with fractures and brain bleed. He ended up in the morgue. El Paso police said the response was justified.

While neither case was in N.J., are there procedures to prevent this?


The Maplewood Health Department recently hired a social worker to help prevent situations such as the ones you describe.  She is a local resident familiar with the town and its culture who works closely with the MPD.  If you know of any specific related issues locally, I would suggest reaching out to her.


This is exactly why some people want to "defund" police departments. Calls about the mentally ill should be handled by trained healthcare/social workers rather than police who are trained to use force for any and all situations.


Unfortunately there’s a daunting lack of health care and mental health professionals of all kinds. Ask anyone who’s been looking for any kind of therapist the last few years. Ask anyone who works in a hospital.  I love the idea of social workers on the front line for crisis intervention instead of police, but they are a limited resource. 

I wonder if some kind of educational approach for interested police officers would work. Like free tuition to some kind of social work degree or certificate program. With a monetary incentive to pursue that kind of training. A new promotion track in a department of crisis intervention or something like that. Because doubleyahoo is right, police officers training is currently heavily violence-dependent. 

I think we should be opening the community coffers to help people go to school for health care careers including mental health. Our society would benefit greatly. This is one example of such a need. 


mrincredible said:

Unfortunately there’s a daunting lack of health care and mental health professionals of all kinds. Ask anyone who’s been looking for any kind of therapist the last few years. Ask anyone who works in a hospital.  I love the idea of social workers on the front line for crisis intervention instead of police, but they are a limited resource. 

I wonder if some kind of educational approach for interested police officers would work. Like free tuition to some kind of social work degree or certificate program. With a monetary incentive to pursue that kind of training. A new promotion track in a department of crisis intervention or something like that. Because doubleyahoo is right, police officers training is currently heavily violence-dependent. 

I think we should be opening the community coffers to help people go to school for health care careers including mental health. Our society would benefit greatly. This is one example of such a need. 

Really good ideas. We had to call the police on my mentally ill brother many times back in the '80s. They would arrive quietly, talk calmly, wait patiently, and de-escalate the situation. We never feared violence or harm even when he had to be taken away and committed. They clearly had effective training on dealing with the mentally ill. 

Same when he would get arrested. We always felt like jail staff recognized his issues and took care of him appropriately. 

Things have changed so much, I guess due to 9/11 and the militarization of the police. They now arrive with guns blazing. Mentally ill inmates are left to die in jail. I'd be afraid to call for help. He's fine now, thanks to modern pharmacology. But the system needs to change.


yahooyahoo said: "Calls about the mentally ill should be handled by trained healthcare/social workers rather than police who are trained to use force for any and all situations."

kthnry said:  "We had to call the police on my mentally ill brother many times back in the '80s. They would arrive quietly, talk calmly, wait patiently, and de-escalate the situation. We never feared violence or harm even when he had to be taken away and committed. They clearly had effective training on dealing with the mentally ill. "

What yahooyahoo says is certainly the ideal, BUT people making the call do not always know about the person's condition, and healthcare/social workers are not always available.  Hence hideous outcomes like that in the original post.

Personally (and from experience i wish i didn't have), i would recommend, at least for people living in relatively small towns such as M/SO, going to the police in advance to explain the situation.  In our town, they wrote it all up, including address, license plate numbers and the fact that the person was not armed, so when we had to call they knew in advance what was up (and when our relative went for long walks at night they watched out for him rolleyes ).  Also highly recommend specific training for as many of the police as possible:  our experience of our local police was much the same as kthnry's


the state has a program that pairs alleged mental health experts with PD and the alleged experts respond to any call that may be mental health related.  I think its only part time, small towns may only be 1 shift/week for now.  i read an article about some towns, but i don't remember the details.  problem is that the alleged mental health teams are often incompetent.  I've dealt with them with a number of people.  twice the people were a serious danger to themselves/once possibly another (me)....and the mental health service chose to play stupid and declare them fine.  both people ended up hospitalized shortly after..lucky to have made it alive.  when PD got into the one house, there were threats scrawled over the walls and knives stashed in every room.  he was emaciated because he didn't eat....he went weeks without bathing or putting on clean clothes, but the mental health service said he was fine.at least in some towns, these so called experts are from the area crisis hospital....those places are a joke, all they do is drug people with anti psychotics for about 5 days, if they succeed in turning the victim into a zombie, they send them home, often without APPROPRIATE outpatient care....if the person is not a zombie, they transfer the victim to an intermediate unit.  it in the crisis units, they have people sitting in urine for hours and wiping feces down the hall.  the techs check vitals why chatting with each other and not actually paying attention to the victim.  victims are denied basic physical care, even OTC medications....sure if a person is a threat, turning them into a zombie fixes that problem, but it is not help....and many people are left traumatized by the 'treatment'  there is no real engagement in those places other than handing out crayons and telling me to color a cartoon picture as occupational therapy......i worked with people with disabilities...if i did that to adults, my a$$ would be fired.....some people say Overlook (voluntary only) is a better facility, but I know 2 people that were crime victims BY STAFF...serious felonies including a severe assault (sever bruising)...and those are the type of people they are sending to intervene in mental health issues.



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