There are some major pitfalls in making the kind of statement that I am about to make because there are some fine men and women who protect and serve in the Gainesville Police Department. Nevertheless, the supervisors, senior officers and trainers are flat not doing their jobs because there are entirely too many incidents where everything is covered by ‘they went by the book’ but no one is looking at the book to see if it is logical.
Since I have been in this town (25 years) three men have been killed with mental illnesses, if my memory is correct. Now, police have guns, Tasers, bullet proof vests, mace, and night sticks or batons. Not only that but there is back-up and if you have a mad man with a knife threatening someone, it is not a bad idea to put more than one or two on site to deal with it.
My own sense as a concerned citizen is that law enforcement’s dealing with threats have evolved into a formula of what weapon to use as opposed to the psychology of dealing with the human threat. I spent 30 months in Japan during the early 1960s of which 18 months was as a Marine MP on a navy base. We only had two weapons which were a Billy club and 45 Cal pistol. Town patrol only had night sticks.
I used to watch the Japanese police train on our football field two or three times a month. The only weapon they had was a night stick. They practiced and were good at going against two or three opponents with knives against one policeman with a night stick. I have also seen them practice going against a man armed with a sward while they only had a night stick. They had no body armor. I have seen them go against two, three and four unarmed opponents with just a night stick. I have watched the Japanese riot police train with shields, dogs and night sticks. They were good.
Their counter parts in the US have body armor that protect all vital organs. A schizophrenic can only get close to one man at a time and is wide open to the other if they are not side by side. This leaves the second free to clean house on the blind side. Night sticks and metal batons are powerful and flexible weapons and far better than knives.
By the very nature of being in the police or military it is an occupation where life threatening situations are a part of the job. Police are in the business to protect and serve and that includes protecting the mentally ill as well.