Manchester police coping with the mentally challengedThursday, October 14, 2021
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Police in this parish say they are trying to use less lethal force when dealing with mentally challenged people, but there are times when the only option is the opposite.
“There is sometimes some apprehension when the police have to attend to deal with persons challenged by mental health issues, because [when] they get violent there is the concern that the police might have to use deadly force and [people usually] want to avoid that,” head of the Manchester police Superintendent Lloyd Darby said on Tuesday.
“Sometimes there is hesitancy [from the police] to deal with the person, so we use baton and pepper spray, less lethal options, but if the person is really violent you have to get close to them to use the less lethal options, and if they are armed sometimes the only option is to use deadly force,” he added.
However, Darby said there have been no violent confrontations between the Manchester police and the mentally ill in recent memory and the police were managing adequately.
Darby was speaking with the Jamaica Observer against the backdrop of recent incidents in Linstead and St Ann's Bay involving confrontations with mentally challenged people resulting in deaths.
In Linstead late last month, a policeman died after being hit by a stone thrown by a mentally ill man. The latter was subsequently shot dead by police.
In St Ann's Bay last Saturday a man was beheaded by a mentally ill man who also died after being shot by the police.
Darby said the police in Manchester work in partnership with the Health Department in treating and controlling the mentally challenged.
“They have a response unit with a vehicle [for] when we receive the reports [and call for help] …
“We are coping at this time. We have not had any recent violent persons to confront,” he added.
“We have a few persons in custody [who] are mentally challenged and we keep on bringing them to the clinic to be medicated; so we have minor challenges with some of them at the lockups when they act up, but we are coping,” he reiterated.
— Kasey Williams