Cops don’t feel equipped to deal with disturbed persons
Police officers don’t feel equipped to deal with people showing disturbed behavior, many of whom have mental health problems, according to a survey by Investico among over a thousand cops for newspapers Trouw and De Groene Amsterdammer. Three quarters of cops report regularly feeling powerless when responding to reports of disturbed behavior.
The training police officers get on using force and how to deal with disturbed behavior “do not provide sufficient guidance to cope with what is currently going on,” a police team chief from Amsterdam told the researchers, according to Trouw. “As a result, more and more colleagues take physical and mental blows.”
Some 75 percent of officers report that they’ve found themselves in situations where they were no longer in control They were attacked, or the person they were approaching injured themselves. 85 percent said they’ve faced aggression or violence from someone showing disturbed behavior. “We often have to fight with people who are just sick in their head,” a police sergeant from Limburg said to the researchers. “It’s really sad that it came this far.”
Jan Struijs of police union NPB told Trouw that mental healthcare is working on how to give police officers more information and training on approaching people with disturbed behavior. But he stressed that the police are saddled with a problem that does not belong in their wheelhouse. “The extent to which we encounter this does not fit within a democratic civilization.”
To NOS, Struijs called this a human rights issue. “Healthcare must be put in order. We at the police can temporarily stick a plaster on, but this must be tackled structurally,” he said. “If you are confused, you deserve good care and don’t belong in a police cell.”