Regarding “State report faults Durham jail in teen inmate’s suicide” (July 8): Durham County’s jail director stated, “Our officers are not mental health professionals.” These officers and all working in public safety/law enforcement do have the duty to maintain a safe environment for those in their care.
As a trained and licensed mental health professional for many years, I have taught Crisis Intervention Training (“CIT”) for officers in law enforcement, including those working in jails and prisons. This training helps them to understand signs and symptoms of mental illness and crisis behaviors and steps necessary to intervene. Some participants welcomed the opportunity to better understand those in their care who are mentally ill or in crisis. Other officers said that their job was to maintain order, that their primary tool for doing so was physical force.
From this report, the officers appeared indifferent to the information alerting them that the teenager was having a mental health crisis. Perhaps if they had received (and applied) crisis training, the outcome would have been different. Institution administrators, as well as officers, can learn to understand and respond to mental health issues effectively. The tools for improvement exist and are available.
“What’s the matter with GOP working class?” (July 6) positing that Trump voters are in the spirit of the frontier of the Old West is interesting but I doubt completely valid. I am descended from two great-grandmothers who traveled in their youth by covered wagon in the 19th century. I spent my early childhood in Arizona in the 1940s and ’50s. All of our Western frontier family were Roosevelt Democrats. The few who later became Republicans did so as they acquired wealth. Part of the frontier spirit was generosity. Self-reliance was definitely there, but helping those who came to the door for a handout was my great grandmother’s norm. One mother with a mentally- disabled daughter became a regular and welcomed visitor to my great grandmother – she called it ‘being a real Christian.’ Going to church meant little if one didn’t share what one had.
My own parents, native Arizonans and also Democrats, believed in the ideals of public education and citizenship. I learned from them that as members a Democracy, the people are the government. Those in office are merely elected representatives. The people hire them and we fire them.
I think the people Brooks met have an ideal based on John Wayne movies. I think it’s more likely those who are steeped in the fantasy of the Old West who are voting against their own interests, rather than those who were raised in its actual spirit.