After doing this for over 30 years, I won’t ever say: “I’ve seen it all” because I haven’t…but I’ve seen a lot of shit.
From the 80's...CI in his old Roller, one of the worst patrol cars ever made!
In California we have a code we use for calls of this nature. It is from the Welfare & Institutions section 5150. This section of law give us coppers the authority to get a mentally ill person into an institution for a “72 hour evaluation.”
The Fords were a big improvement in the early 90's
It’s funny, but some cops actually think that the docs and the nut shop are really always going to hold somebody for 72 hours. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. …most of the time nothing gets done to put the lug nuts back on their wheels. The system is broken and they expect the cops to be able to fix it all.
I’ve had good cop friends who’ve had to deal with crazies many, many times…as the cop watches the person get worse each day. I can think of a case from not too long ago where the 5150 came at the coppers with a knife. Other methods failed…and the .40 cal worked. No cop ever wants to have to take a life, but it’s better than letting the crazy take yours—and they will if you let them.
However, these folks, in most cases cannot help it. If somebody had a broken arm or was bleeding, all good folks would wanna’ help them. But when it comes to mental illness, everybody wants to run away and let the cops deal with it. Most of the time Most of these people are harmless, but often annoying. Some wouldn’t harm a fly, and others would cut your heart out and eat if they could. How can you tell the difference?
We can’t. All cops should use these basic rules of engagement.
1.) Treat all people with dignity and respect…but have a plan to kill them if needed.
2.) We bring a gun to a knife fight.
3.) If the bad guy has a pistol, bring a rifle or shotgun and bring lots of other cops.
4.) If a bad guy wants to fight with his hands, we use tools- batons, pepper spray, Vulcan neck grip, etc
Now, don’t get me wrong…sometimes these folks can be very entertaining. I don’t know what it is, but I lost track over the years of how many crazy folks told me something like: “The CIA is watching me. I know they are listening to my thoughts right now…”
I heard this so often that I started to do a few things to help these crazy folks. First I told them: “Did you know it’s against US law for the CIA to gather intell in the US? It’s really the FBI who’s watching you.”
That would get their heads spinning.
The more recent method of helping these folks is when I locate a few who think the CIA is watching them….then I tell the crazy that the other crazy is working for the CIA, so they better watch out.
Or the one nut who one quiet Saturday morning decided to walk into somebody's house out of the blue and see if they had any mail for him. He just walked in the front door, stopped, looked around and walked to where a pile of mail was.
The folks living there of course called 911 and my partner and I arrived. The nut was very quiet and polite. He didn't run or do anything else wrong, but look through all the mail.
My partner tried asking the nut why he came to that house and why he thought they would have his mail.
The nut responded with: "I heard voices telling me to walk into this house."
Without blinking, I looked at him and said: "Can you hear my voice telling you to never do that again?"
He did hear my voice and left without further incident.
Oh, I know….I’m going to hell…but I’ll at least have a front row seat.
It was not all fun and games…there were those we had to fight to get some into the rubber room and hope the nurse could get the “shot” into the loony’s arm before they broke the grip we had.