Polk County Florida Sheriff, Grady Judd, stood in front of an eager press room filled with ‘journalists’ waiting to take a jab at tactics used by deputies to control a violent suspect that may have been struggling with mental health issues. “We are the best trained people, in a crisis, not a mental health counselor who’s used to a more clinical setting,” said Judd when answering a question as to why the sheriff’s office doesn’t send ‘mental health professionals’ to a scene that involves a suspect dealing with a mental health crisis.
The media grabs ahold of ‘trending’ phrases and key words to stir the proverbial pot of emotions among citizens every day. I call it the ‘sex of the day’. News outlets have gone away from reporting the news, and entered into the realm of dissecting would-be stories to create a narrative of their own. Journalists have become subjective commentators, and consider themselves to be the ‘expert’ while they deliver the story to your television, smartphone or tablet attempting to ‘assist’ you in forming your opinion based on politics and divisive rhetoric, rather than facts and real information. The actions of the media are creating real and inherent danger on the streets of America for the sake of the outlets’ social media following, ‘likes’, shares and desire to break news.
The fact is, if an unarmed psychologist rolls up to a scene where an armed suspect is either high on drugs, desperate to avoid going to jail, high on emotions after a domestic interaction or dealing with a real diagnosis, the outcome will be devastating. Law enforcement agencies across the country have implemented CIT training, also known as Crisis Intervention Team programs, which provide officers the bare minimum essential tools to be able to better understand the mental state of a person at the scene to which they’ve been called. No, this does not make the average street cop a psychological professional, by any means, but it allows the officer to be able to more immediately identify key symptoms that will give the officer a starting point of communication that usually involves active listening and de-escalation.
In Florida, Sheriff Judd said there is no ‘fairy dust’ that officers can sprinkle on a situation to dissolve tension and resolve the matter, and that if there were such a thing, his officers would pull a trailer of it around everywhere they were dispatched.
The media has created an environment that calls for de-escalation, defunding the police, and restructuring or actually abolishing entire departments because officers are oftentimes required to use force to subdue a suspect. Nobody likes to see violence, and that’s a good thing. I don’t think I would say someone is weak or that someone needs to become insensitive to violence, but there needs to be a better understanding of reality.
As an expert in the field of fugitive apprehension, I can tell you that the only way to respond to violence, in an effort to stop it, is to meet that violence with superior violence. Before someone can be ‘deescalated’, they have to be willing to reason, and this just isn’t the case in the majority of these instances.
The problem isn’t the cops. Policing has been politicized and tactics have been turned into partisan talking points by the out-of-control media looking to make a statement in support of a certain ideology that doesn’t exist. As long as there is a problem, there is never a shortage of content, and that’s all today’s journalists care about.