39 chances

Thirty nine times the sheriffs were called to the kids home. Thirty nine opportunities to get him help, put him away, take his guns away and keep them away.

How many times was I called to the home of an “emotional male” and failed to take him away, get him help or do much of anything?

Far more than thirty nine.

People are not wrapped tight. Even people who appear to be can come unglued at a moment’s notice. Sometimes concerned friends and family call 911.

And what can we do?

Nothing much.

If a person experiencing an emotional breakdown or other abnormal behavior finds themselves facing involuntarry loss of freedom, all they have to do is pull themselves together long enough to convince 911 responders that they are not a danger to themselves or others. With nothing more than anecdotal evidence our hands are tied, and the  person needing help or restraint goes on their way.

People who know nothing point fingers, blame us, demand change and truly believe we have failed them.

We haven’t failed anybody. We do not have the answers. We do the best we can without violating a person’s civil rights or privacy. We cannot take a person away because other people say we should.

And sometimes, seventeen people get murdered.

And I think about all of the people I was called to take away that I let go, and wonder if they ever killed anybody.

Is there a solution?

I looked for one for 25 years and never found it, except one idea; a mental health emergency response team consisting of a licenced physician with the power to commit, a police officer with the legal power to restrain and detain and a paramedic to provide emergency medical care.

It will never happen.

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