Monday, February 16, 2009

Lawmaker proposes mental illness database

From Mental Health Association of Portland:

...‘‘My worry is that if he’s not stable that he could be — ‘‘ Thayer stops herself. There have been plenty of headlines in Oregon in recent years about mentally ill people killed in confrontations with police that make Thayer worry what could happen to her son.

‘‘I said, ‘Zac, promise me you will put this in your pocket and you will keep this in your pocket, so they will understand that you’re not on drugs,’” Thayer said. In 2006, James Chasse Jr. was wrestled to the ground when Portland police mistakenly thought the 42-year-old schizophrenic was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Chasse passed in and out of consciousness as police took him to jail and then to the hospital. He died later that night.

Legislation sponsored by state Rep. Andy Olson, an Albany Republican, seeks to give people like Thayer a little peace of mind. His bill would require the Oregon State Police to create a voluntary mental health database that would help law enforcement officials work with those who have mental illness....

OUR COMMENT - This is a clever and terrible idea is grown within the vacuum of vision and leadership by persons desperate for a solution to a chronic problem. Beside the impossibility of managing even voluntary medical information within federal constraints, the disparity and discrimination of implementation, the departments and bureaus using such a database would need to either agree to a degree of liability for use of the information, or use it on a voluntary basis - which means it’s just a pretend fix, which is more dangerous than nothing at all.

Using the name of James Chasse by this reporter to promote this clever and terrible idea is misleading. First, we doubt James would ever agree to be involved with this sort of authoritarian intervention, and second, it’s clear from evidence the officers didn’t check their own SWIS database prior to targeting James and beating him to death.

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