Article: Police Confront Rising Number Of Mentally Ill Suspects

1457 words - 6 pages

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in 17 Americans suffer from a serious mental illness. That is roughly one person in an average high school classroom. These mentally ill people live a different life, and in some situations, they cannot fully comprehend what is happening around them. These people need a little more time and patience than the average person would need in any given situation. Because of this, they need to be handled differently by police officers when they come into contract. This is not happening and it is causing chaos. In “Police Confront Rising Number of Mentally Ill Suspects,” an article featured in The New York Times on April 1, 2014, writers Fernanda Santos and Erica Goode bring attention to the treatment of mentally ill suspects when being confronted by police officers. The article starts with the emotional story of James Boyd to capture the audience’s attention and to create distaste for the police, which is reinforced throughout the article. The authors then go on to have various professionals testify that in recent years the number of incidents between mentally ill people and police officers has risen dramatically. Santos and Goode describe the process of many police departments and compare them with Albuquerque’s, showing that their procedures when handling mentally ill suspects either is not used or there are no guidelines to follow. This article portrays the ignorance some people have when handling situations with mentally ill people and how that affects the lives of the mentally ill and could potentially affect the reader’s own life. Structural, material, and characterological coherence are evident in the article to effectively shed light on how police officers need to revise their protocol when handling situations where the mentally ill are involved.

Structural coherence is visible in this article because of how smoothly important elements of the story flow from the beginning to the conclusion. Santos and Goode start the article with the story of the shooting of James Boyd. Police officers were trying to move Boyd off the property because he was trespassing, but Boyd could not understand what was happening. Boyd had a history of mental illness and actually believed that he was a federal agent himself. He believed he was of such high authority that he could not be bossed around. He told the officers this, but they did not stand down or change their course of action. Eventually, Boyd pulled out two knives, resulting in him being shot and killed. Santos and Goode use this story to present the idea that police officers do not know how to handle mentally ill suspects, even though “nearly 75 percent of those shot in 2010 and 2011 suffered from mental illness.” The article continues with statements from the vice president of the Albuquerque police department that was involved in the shooting of James Boyd. He defends the actions of his officers and tries to say that they are trained to handle...

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