Mentally ill need help, not SWAT

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A word of advice to anyone who may have a mentally disturbed relative or friend: Do not call 911 if they are acting out. A SWAT team will most likely be sent, and your loved one will end up dead. We read too many accounts of mentally deranged people barricading themselves at home and ending up being shot by a police officer. We recently witnessed a video of a deranged young mother with a child in her car who tried to breach the White House grounds then sped off to the Capitol, only to be shot dead by security officers.

Our police force, sworn to protect and defend, has become a military organization with itchy trigger fingers. We need to take a fresh look at how we handle mentally ill people. If someone calls 911 to report someone barricaded in their home, or acting strangely in public, a better policy may be to send a mental health team rather than a SWAT team. At least include a mental health professional to accompany the police if the suspect is displaying signs of mental illness. Mental illness should not be a lethal disease.

William R. Adams