Police Chief Testifies: Stop Pretending About Mental Illness, Violence and Voluntary Treatment



“We have to stop pretending that violence is not associated with untreated serious mental illness. We have to stop pretending that everyone is well enough to volunteer for treatment and self-direct their own care. Some clearly are not.’  –Michael C. Biasotti

U.S. Representative Tim Murphy (R-Pa) continued his campaign last week to reform our nation’s failing mental health system by holding what his colleagues described as one of the best hearings in recent memory about serious mental illnesses.

Entitled: “Where Have All the Patients Gone? Examining the Psychiatric Bed Shortage,” the Commerce and Energy Subcommittee heard from a panel of ten experts who not only discussed current barriers to getting treatment but also provided the subcommittee with a primer on why jails and prisons have become our new mental asylums.

Today’s blog post focuses on testimony by Michael C. Biasotti, Chief of Police and Immediate Past President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, and the parent of a daughter with a serious mental illness who has been involuntarily committed more than twenty times. 

Biasotti warned that we currently are operating two mental health systems.

We have two mental health systems today, serving two mutually exclusive populations: Community programs serve those who seek and accept treatment. Those who refuse, or are too sick to seek treatment voluntarily, become a law enforcement responsibility. Officers in the survey were frustrated that mental health officials seemed unwilling to recognize or take responsibility for this second more symptomatic group. Ignoring them puts patients, the public and police at risk and costs more than keeping care within the mental health system.

You can watch his testimony above or read it by clicking here.

What he has to say is thought provoking and controversial.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.