Dear Future President,
I am a student at The Charlton School located in Burnt Hills. Today, I am writing to you to explain why I think law enforcement should be trained in how to handle citizens with mental health disabilities. I urge you to take into account my opinions, and hopefully apply them to future decisions. As someone with a mental health disorder who has been mistreated by law enforcement, I strongly advise that there be special courses about how to handle citizens with mental health disabilities fairly.
Mental health is a problem many people face. I could sit here and name all the different mental health disorders (PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, etc), but those are just labels without much meaning. Mental health is a real problem that a lot of people face. According to a article about the issue by Alex Emslie on KQED News, as many as half of fatal shootings kill a person in psychiatric crisis. In 2014, the United States court ruled that the Americans With Disabilities Act applies to police encounters with mentally ill suspects. It's tragic that they just figured that out two years ago.
This is how it goes: Officers are told they are dealing with someone who's mentally ill, the person comes at the officers, and finally the person is killed or seriously injured. To me, that's horrifying. Regardless of being told what that person is going through, they feel the need to treat them like a criminal which they are not. When I think of a true criminal, I think of someone who is intentionally doing something that is against the law. People with mental health disabilities don't necessarily have control of what they are doing. They're in the wrong mental state to be judged on their actions.
My solution is to to train law enforcement in dealing with the mentally ill. I believe CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) programs should be required to become a police officer in every state. Law enforcement should understand who they're dealing with, not just what the citizen did. I hope you find a way to incorporate my opinions in future decisions you will be making. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my letter. I really appreciate it.