Tags: Health Topics | Law Enforcement | Mass Shootings | border line | california | thousand oaks

No Excuse for Mental Health Responders Letting Shooter Slip Away

No Excuse for Mental Health Responders Letting Shooter Slip Away

The body of Ventura County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Ron Helus is transported from the Los Robles Regional Medical Center Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, California. This after a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country music bar killing multiple people including Helus. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

By Friday, 09 November 2018 02:19 PM Current | Bio | Archive

While reading the New York Post today (Nov. 9, 2018) I was curious to find out about the circumstances surrounding the incident of the mass-shooter Ian David Longs.

He was home seven months before the senseless massacre he committed at the Border Line Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.

The New York Post reported that Ventura Police were dispatched to the home of his mother  — where he resided. That police call was the result of a noise complaint from a neighbor.

Police subsequently ended up blocking off the street for hours while a tense negotiation with Long went on until he surrendered. Long had barricaded himself in by piling up furniture in front of the door to keep law enforcement out.

It was additionally reported that a bullet was shot into a wall; it’s not clear who fired the shot. When Long surrendered mental-health specialists responded, and they determined that Long was not a threat and that he did not require an involuntary psychiatric hold.

The specialists felt he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and that he was a veteran. The fact that he acted irrationally and barricaded himself for hours until he surrendered is reason alone for a psychiatric hold.

If not what is?

This writer spent several years on patrol with the NYPD, and I can tell you had this occurred on our watch back then he would have definitely been treated as an Emotionally Disturbed Person (an EDP). He then would have been transported to Bellevue Psychiatric (in New York) for evaluation.

My question is who were these mental-health specialists and what in their minds determines whether or not a person needs to be placed in a psychiatric hold.

My thought is this more liberal law enforcement endangering the lives of Americans.

I was curious, so I looked up the California Law Article 1: Detention of Mentally Disordered Persons for Evaluation and Treatment (5150-5155) the law clearly states that upon probable cause a person can be taken into custody for up to 72 hours for evaluation.

The key provision is probable cause, so barricading yourself for hours to the point that police have to negotiate for your surrender and the fact that you have PTSD and that you are a veteran is not probable cause.

Thus, I have to question the mental health persons who responded to this scene and wonder if they were qualified to make such a decision to not hold Long for 72 hours.

Did these mental personnel not speak with Long's mother. It was also reported but not verified that Long's mother was afraid of him. Long's actions were not that of a rational person

Long's behavior was irrational to the point of requiring at least a 72-hour hold.

Had this occurred, more may have been discovered. We can hope Long would have received the help he needed. However, that may still not have happened given the state of our mental health treatment systems in our nation.

In my 25 years as a police officer, I dealt with many emotionally disturbed people who were ticking time-bombs, walking the streets as we waited for them to commit some horrible act.

Let me be clear, this is not on the hands of the responding police officers.

Those officers relied on the mental health professionals who are purportedly trained in these types of incidents. They are also supposedlytrained to make the decisions for a mental health hold.

This is a case in which had proper action been taken by responding mental health professionals, we might not have wound up with the Border Line Grill tragedy.

Who is to blame?

Were the mental-health professionals second-guessing themselves, and doing so because they were afraid of possible litigation in the event they did hold Long for 72 hours. A scenario in which they could conceivably be held responsible — for being wrong?

Or, was an environment created by politicians and professional litigators so that persons in these positions are afraid to be held accountable for acting in good faith.

We may never know.

However, something must be done when the warning signs are there and they are intentionally ignored.

Harry Houck is a former CNN law enforcement analyst, retired NYPD Detective First Grade, and USMC veteran. Follow him on Twitter, @HarryJHouck, or Facebook. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.


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Who is to blame? Were the mental-health professionals second-guessing themselves, and doing so because they were afraid of possible litigation in the event they did hold Long for 72 hours?
border line, california, thousand oaks
Friday, 09 November 2018 02:19 PM
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