Friday, March 13, 2015

A Different Approach

Amherst Police Department, 111 Main Street

The Amherst Police Department was recently awarded a $33,615 state grant for the next two years by the Department of Mental Health to train officers in a "team approach" for dealing with behavior health problems rather than the standard cycle of arrest, District Court hearing, release, back on the streets.  Repeat.

Chief Livingstone was "pretty excited about receiving the grant".  According to the Chief, "This team approach model has had successes in many other police agencies across the country.  This is a nationwide problem that cannot be solved by police and court systems alone."

Department wide training will begin in June and after officers have been selected to form a "Crisis Intervention Team" they will receive additional higher level training.

Downtown businesses have been complaining for the past few years about the increasing number of homeless in the downtown, some of them under the influence of drugs or alcohol, getting out of control.

Downtown will also see addition police presence during business hours if the Town Manger's FY16 budget is approved by Town Meeting this spring.  After years of calling for increased police staffing the Town Manager, finally, added one sworn officer to his budget proposal.


Anonymous said...

It tells us how tight the finances are, when the Chief gets excited about a $33K grant.

Dr. Ed said...

Word to the wise, you folks will regret this. Trust me, when Amherst looses a six, seven, or eight figure lawsuit for violation of civil rights, you will regret this.

keithw said...

Larry, any idea which crisis intervention model DMH will be instructing them in?

Larry Kelley said...

No, the DMH press release was a little vague.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had a dollar for every time Ed has said "you will regret this"

Memo to Ed: most people don't live like this.

Anonymous said...

Can we make an arrangement with a town on the Cape? We need police officers for the school year and they need them for the summer!

Dr. Ed said...

"I wish I had a dollar for every time Ed has said "you will regret this""

If you are an Amherst taxpayer, you had them, and still would if you'd listened to me.

Was I wrong about Maria G?

Likewise, I distinctly remember
standing in Lot 71 and telling a Gazette reporter that I thought riots were coming and why. He didn't believe me -- and what started to happen a few years later????


keithw has a point -- it does depend on which model they use, but the model I fear they will use involves pretextual arrests -- arresting people for crimes that don't even exist and burying that in a 12A commitment.

While morally repugnant, you get away with this as long as you can commit the person, but it is only a matter of time until Officer Friendly makes a mistake. For example, Diabetes is not a mental illness, even though the brain is very much messed up when the blood glucose level is too high or low.

No matter how incompetent the medical folks initially are (I believe UMass once committed a rape victim), Diabetes is "provable" and eventually will come out -- either the hospital will refuse to commit or will subsequently be shown to be incompetent -- this then comes back not to the 12A, although there may be issues with that, but Officer Friendly's prior, highly illegal, arrest -- for a crime which does not exist.

In a town like Amherst, that's the sort of thing that doesn't go over all so well...

It, quite clearly, is also "violation of civil rights under color of lat" -- 46 USC 1983 and municipalities are considered "persons" in "Section 1983" lawsuits. I do not believe that the limits of the State Tort Claims Act apply -- and a Federal trial would be held in Springfield, with jurors potentially drawn from communities where police officers are not well liked.