|Suicide by Cop|
|By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ|
What do the seriously mentally ill persons and first responders have in common you ask? First of all, you must look into this newly developing phenomenon very carefully and explore every threat or dangers faced by police officers everyday. This new phenomenon that is running rampant is commonly referred to as- suicide by cop. It is happening more often now than ever before in history and police officers, firemen and all law enforcement as well as medical staff has to make adjustments in their training and survival skills.
According to an article written by the treatment advocacy center (TAC) "the safety of both law enforcement officers and citizens is compromised when law enforcement responds to crises involving people with severe mental illnesses who are not being treated." There has been a dangerous trend developing out of an unnatural growth of the hordes of seriously mentally ill persons that are putting the lives and wellness of first responders and police or sheriff deputies in danger. The trend has become more common daily and is exploding exponentially with increased suicides and murders that the police are ill prepared to deal with as they must find safe alternatives to responding to help.
Instead of focusing their energy and resources on the criminal, they must now begin to instantly think of those innocents around the criminal possessed with a disturbed mind that is threatening to take someone's life that now includes the responding law officer. This plan to kill a cop so they can be killed by a cop appears to be their own alternative to ending their own life. One must ask the question "what triggers a mentally ill person in need of treatment to be so desperate to commit a hideous crime and then makes plans to be killed by a responding cop?
Today's first responders are police officers, firemen, correctional officers and medical staff that are put in harm's way momentarily as they arrive at an emergency situation and preparing to deal with this critical situation with their minds on the other person's safety. They are rarely aware that they are the deliberate targets for harm and are less likely to be mentally prepared to return fire or defend against lethal force or other weapons. Sadly more and more people are getting killed for assaulting officers in justifiable homicides at a rate nearly four times greater than the general public. This rate is increasing almost yearly and must be addressed.
First responders have to be extra cautious when responding to an emergency call or 911. There is much risk nowadays for these individuals to ignore the rising number and incidents of mentally ill persons acting out in such a bizarre and unpredictable manner where these officers, firemen and medical staff have to make adjustments in their timing procedures and ensure the scene for treatment or containment is safe. Although a time consuming effort, they must take cover until such time where they can verify that there is no continued threat to innocents or other law enforcement present to serve the public.
Perhaps with more availability to treatment this rate can be reduced and law enforcement and all first responders can be safe performing this most essential service of public safety. Politicians need to assess this need and take the appropriate action to protect our civil servants in uniform and elsewhere.
Editor’s note: Carl ToersBijns (retired), worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Car’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."
Other articles by ToersBijns: