Train mental health department, not police

Published: Sunday, Jul. 6, 2014 - 3:06 pm

Re "Should every officer get mental illness training?" (The Conversation, June 29): Police step in when one condition has been met: the mental health system has failed. California's mental health system only serves those well enough to recognize their need for treatment. They turn the others over to police, shelters, prisons and morgues.

About 90 percent of those in California state psychiatric hospitals got there through criminal justice. California has more people incarcerated for mental illness than hospitalized. Proposition 63 made California's mental health system very well-funded.

However, until mental health directors and programs are trained, indeed required, to use those funds to provide real treatment for the really sick, the police will continue to run their shadow mental health system.

-- DJ Jaffe, New York City

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