The State Worker

CHP, Sacramento-area police, meet to discuss mental health issues

The location of Thursday’s forum on policing and assisting people with mental illness.
The location of Thursday’s forum on policing and assisting people with mental illness.

As police in California grapple with how to handle people with mental illness, health advocates, law enforcement officials and government administrators will gather Thursday evening to talk over what has become an explosive issue.

The forum at the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training offices in West Sacramento will feature speakers and panelists from several Sacramento-area law-enforcement departments, the CHP, the California Network for Mental Health Clients and the Center for Collaborative Policy at California State University, Sacramento.

The event continues a public discussion that gained renewed urgency last year after Elliot Rodger went on a rampage in Isla Vista that left six college students dead before he took his own life.

Police had visited Rodger, 22, a few weeks before the murders, spurred by his mother's concern about his disturbing YouTube posts. The police, however, saw no indication he was a danger to himself or others so they did not search his apartment for weapons he had stored there.

A few months later, a white CHP officer beat a mentally-confused African American woman on the side of a Southern California freeway. The officer resigned and the department agreed to a $1.5 million settlement with the victim. CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said the case indicated law enforcement officers need more mental-health training.

Last November Farrow hosted a forum that highlighted the tension between enforcing the law and correctly dealing with someone in mental crisis.

The American Society for Public Administration’s Sacramento chapter is organizing the 5:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. event at 860 Stillwater Road, Suite 100, in West Sacramento. Click here to register. There is no cost to attend.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.