Saturday, January 9, 2016

Lt Tim Troxel on How Police Respond to Mental-Health-related calls - Part One

Ada and Rich Fleisher were extremely impressed with Lt Troxel's presentation, as was I. He's a very knowledgeable, compassionate guy, who answered our many questions.

Met him on December 5 at Coffee with a Cop at Weinrich Bakery. That program is one of many outreach programs our Upper Moreland Police Dept participates in.  They also hold inservices with teachers in our school district. More about this later. Wait'll you read about it!

Here's Tim preparing his slide show.

We had about 10 people show up, in contrast to the saying: If you build it, they will come.

This was one of our best programs ever! I send emails to 220 people. Only one person showed up .... Teresa thanked me for sending it.

Folks asked good questions. One man, Michael, lives in a group home sponsored by Penndel Mental Health.

Michael's roommate was in a rage and beat him badly about the head. Michael went to the hospital, got a CT scan, and was diagnosed with a concussion. His head was black n blue, but he's since healed and the roommate has moved elsewhere.

This is what happens in the real world of mental illness. Most of us, of course, are not violent.

Lt Troxel passed out an article from the recent Jan 4, 2016 New York Post by Rob Lowry.

Titled "Dumping America's mental-health woes on the cops," here are some important lines:
The police are our de facto front-line mental health workers - "armed social workers" in the pungent phrase of one observer - and jails are our de facto psychiatric hospital system.

A more rational and humane policy, continued the article, would give FAMILIES robust treatment options before it gets to the point of calling the cops. This would mean more psychiatric hospital beds and more options for mandated care. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa) has a bill to push the mental health system in this direction.
A married couple in our audience - they found out about the program from an email Twp Commissioner Sam Valenza sent out - have a schizophrenic son - their only child - who is causing them no end of problems.

He was fine as a kid, the high school valedictorian, the mom told me, and then - boom! - it hit. No warning, she said. 

He should never come home to live with them, I told them after they said how destructive he is. He has his own town house which he's destroyed inside. Rage and frustration, I'd imagine.

Such grief these parents go through. I told them to join NAMI, Bucks County, with Debbie Moritz at the helm.

Tim gave us a brief bio. He's been with the Upper Moreland cops for 22 years. He, Chief Focht, and another lieutenant are the top cops. Focht will retire in four years and Tim hopes to replace him.

Born on a Berks County farm, he knows how to milk a cow. There are so few police officers in farm country that State Police take take c/o local problems.

Tim knew since he was in eighth grade he wanted to be a cop. Doesn't come from a family of cops like the Reagan family. He loves the show as do the Fleishers and I.

On the day after graduation, Tim left for the army, I believe. He was a combat medic for 10 years. His medical training is immensely helpful since cops deal with accidents and occasionally shooters.

Nine local police departments have combined to form one SWAT team. Trexel has a leadership position in this.

He has never killed anyone though he's been shot at.

When my town of Willow Grove celebrated its 300th bday I learned about our SWAT Team.

Since I'm quite familiar with heroin addicts, I was interested in hearing about the newly approved drug Narcan, which can prevent opioid deaths.

Speaking of crime, this news alert just came in from the Times.  Sean Penn met with Mexican drug lord who was just recaptured for the third time

There are three group homes in Upper Moreland. A tall hirsute woman arouses suspicion as she walks down the street and talks to herself and the trees. The officers drive by and chat with her.

They probly know 90 percent of the krazy people in the township. 

A married couple was at the meeting. They heard about us from an email by township commissioner Sam Valenza. They live a few blocks from me. They have one child - a schizophrenic son - who gives them nothing but grief.

He was fine, the mom told me, until his late teens. Smartest kid in his class. Then schizophrenia ruined his life and theirs. Never let him move in w/you, I advised. He already destroyed his town house. Rage? Frustration?

New Directions member Mike, who has a nonviolent schizophrenic brother who doesn't take meds, asked a question about recruitment of cops. Remains the same, said Troxel.

A new female officer, who the board of commissioners will vote on, recently passed all the tests. She's soft-spoken, a librarian. Why on earth would she wanna become a cop?

Spoke to my librarian sister tonight who's in town to attend my b'day party the morrow. Told her about our program. She said she's really interested in the topic since there are mentally ill people at her libe in Ashland, OR.

In fact, they're having a similar presentation at their library.

The Upper Moreland force, I'm pleased to report, has many outreach programs to the community. One such program is Coffee with a Cop. They give this at various coffee shops. I met Tim in early December at Weinrich's Bakery.

They offer inservices with teachers and discuss what to do if someone acts out or brandishes a weapon. And, yes, some of the teachers have guns. They've gotta take a training class first.

Three ways to respond to a mental health crisis:

- Get the person to a facility. Upper Moreland has a contract with Horsham Clinic. But they can go anywhere.... Abington, Brooke Glen, or MCES Building 51, a very secure facility, said Tim.

My career as a bipolar woman began in MCES Building 16, now razed. My motto: Make your first visit your last. It's a terrible way to get introduced to mental illness! Really sick people wandering the halls.

- Make a visit to the ill person and de-escalate the situation. Officers have been trained how to do dat. Some are better than others. Trexel has a good feel for this.

- Arrest the person as a criminal.

The Upper Moreland cops respond to a mental-health call roughly every other day.

Often they can diffuse a situation within twenty minutes or less.

It's street psychology on our part, he said. He advises new recruits It's real easy to get cynical real fast.

I'd previously told Tim he was an optimistic positive person.

On his heavy belt he carries a revolver. Handcuffs are toward the back. He can also carry an expandable wand, which acts like a billy club; a Tasar, pepper spray, and peanut M and Ms. Just kidding.

He went over 'shoot to kill.'  Suppose a person comes toward you with a knife. If you have time to get out your gun, shoot him. You shoot until the person stops moving. There have been instances where cops stopped shooting cause the person was down. But then the person shot the officer.

We don't wake up in the morning, he said, with the intention of killing anyone that day.

He loves his job.

What about stress? A hot topic, he said, which will be brought up in a national police conference is police suicide.

Being a cop offers a front row seat to the greatest show on earth.

Can you handle it?  P T S D.  When he was a rookie officer, Tim was called out for a SIDS death. He held the dead baby in his hands.

He doesn't have much of a problem in clearing his mind of his day's work. He's been off the streets for three years and does administrative work.

My blogspot is acting up, so we'll go on to Part Two. 

No comments:

Post a Comment