How lovely it would be if, as in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy (Available on Amazon), it is our Earth Goddess Gaia who selects gifted women to protect the future of Earth and humankind.
Police Reformation and Transformation
When my graduate work was concluding and I was headed out into the world, my innocence was not apparent to me. In looking at the job in the inner city of Baltimore I had been given a grand tour. But only later did I come to see and feel the true extent and depth of the problems.
More Than Mental Health
Of course in my training and education I had come to assume that evaluation and psychotherapy were central. As it turned out the only thing that was central was the acceptance of the extent and reality of problems a person may face. In that impoverished environment one truth was essential. Poverty is a huge destructor of a person’s mental health. It leads them into depression and anxiety and down a steep dark hill from there.
In This Era
My experiences relate well to issues being examined now and it is clear to me that we not only need a truly in depth reevaluation of our society, but it has to be on ever so many fronts. But for now let me focus on the police. There is now a cry in some quarters for the “defunding” of the police. The only definition of defending I could find meant ending all funding for them although it seemed likely it meant refunding. Defunding would mean we would have no police at all. Defunding can only mean a horror.
More to the point is a serious look at what we ask our police to do and decades ago I saw them being asked to do things that did not belong on their table. I will select two. One is dealing with the mentally ill and the second is dealing with the homeless. Neither of these issues are ever clearly distinct.
In the 1960s our job was to deal with the “mentally ill”. Well. Kind of. Naively we began with a focus on the people referred to us by community agencies. They were an extraordinarily diverse lot. In time we were also told to work with the people who were in the state mental hospital and help them in their return home. The employees in the state hospital saw us as intrusive. But they had to accept our coming to see the people who were soon to leave. Our experience was that we would arrive, go to the relevant nurse’s station and routinely it was empty except for a pile of folders. Our presence was resented and the staff did not want to talk to us.
In general they were seen as simply unfortunate and we were usually not asked to see them. One day my close staff friend and I went to a place where homeless gathered. Their diversity was stunning. And often it is these people the police are directed to handle. Some of them were mentally ill and many others simply stunningly unfortunate. The stories were highly variable. Since then matters have gotten worse. After additional wars there were more and more men coming with all types of post traumatic stress disorders. Many ended up on the streets. This was hardly an appropriate population for the police.
The Broader Picture
The above are just a very limited sample of issues on the streets of our cities and beyond. Too often we expect the police to deal with them and see to it that they are taken somewhere appropriate for care or help. Unless, of course, there are no appropriate places available. It almost seems that we do not want to deal with all these issues so we dump it in the hands of the police.
The Bottom Line
We do not need to defund the police. We need to do an in depth evaluation of what we are often asking them to do. And in doing so we are surely going to come face to face with the failure, not of the police, but of our society and how often we turn away from the problems of our people. It is now past time for us to face ourselves and the issues we are not dealing with and not providing appropriate resources and systems for,