Month: June 2020

Golden State Killer admits murders, rapes for life in prison

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gay Hardwick stood arm-in-arm with her husband to face a criminal dubbed the Golden State Killer and couldn’t recognize the elderly man hunched in a wheelchair as the sadistic rapist who had terrorized them 42 years earlier.

In a hushed and raspy voice, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. — a serial rapist before he became a serial killer — acknowledged in two words, “I admit,” that he had attacked the couple in 1978 as he pleaded guilty Monday to 13 murders, and admitted dozens of rapes and crimes too old to be prosecuted as part of a deal to avoid the death penalty.

“It was the clenched teeth and, you know, the breathy voice, so there really wasn’t any resemblance — there isn’t any resemblance to the old man that sits before us today,” Gay Hardwick said. “I’m not sure that a lot of that isn’t feigned.”

DeAngelo, who hid behind a ski mask during his crimes, sat behind a clear plastic shield to allow surviving victims and their families to see his face even as they wore masks to prevent possible spread of the coronavirus. The court hearing was held at a Sacramento State University ballroom to accommodate more than 150 observers at a safe distance during the pandemic.

The seemingly frail and feeble 74-year-old ex-cop, who once busted into bedrooms spewing expletives and threatening to use a .357 Magnum to blow the heads off anyone who moved, seemed lost as he turned to his lawyer each time a prosecutor recited the lurid details of attacks that terrified a swath of Northern California in the 1970s.

But where some saw a frail and confused man, others saw a master manipulator.

The day before his arrest in 2018, DeAngelo weaved his motorcycle through freeway traffic to lose police who were tailing him, prosecutors said. When he appeared in a court two days later, he looked like the lost man who listed sideways Monday with his mouth half open.

“I’m extremely angry that he’s up there acting as if he can’t even remember,” Jennifer Carole, whose father, attorney Lyman Smith, was slain in 1980 with his wife, Charlene Smith, who was raped before being killed in Ventura. “I feel a lot of anger, which I don’t think I’ve felt so powerfully before.”

Carole wept as a prosecutor described how her father and stepmother were bludgeoned with a fire log. A pile of used tissues was on the floor next to her chair.

DeAngelo, a Vietnam veteran and a grandfather, had never been on investigators’ radar until just before his arrest.

About a decade after the last killing, they connected a series of assaults in central and Northern California to slayings in Southern California and settled on the Golden State Killer nickname for the mysterious assailant.

Police used DNA from crime scenes to find a distant relative through a popular genealogy website database then built a family tree that eventually led them to him. They secretly collected DNA from his car door and a discarded tissue to get an arrest warrant.

The retired truck mechanic was arrested at his home in the Sacramento suburbs — the same area he terrorized in the mid-1970s, earning the title East Area Rapist.

DeAngelo did not co-operate with authorities. But he muttered a confession of sorts after his arrest that cryptically referred to an alter ego named “Jerry” he said forced him to commit the wave of crimes that appeared to end abruptly in 1986.

“I did all that,” DeAngelo said to himself while alone in a police interrogation room after his arrest in April 2018, Sacramento County prosecutor Thien Ho said.

“I didn’t have the strength to push him out,” DeAngelo said. “He made me. He went with me. It was like in my head, I mean, he’s a part of me. I didn’t want to do those things. I pushed Jerry out and had a happy life. I did all those things. I destroyed all their lives. So now I’ve got to pay the price.”

While prosecutors suggested DeAngelo had been faking a split-personality, Ho said his day of reckoning had arrived.

“The scope of Joseph DeAngelo’s crimes is simply staggering,” Ho said.

Prosecutors detailed sadistic acts he committed after slipping into homes undetected and surprising couples in bed by shining a flashlight in their faces and threatening to kill everyone in the house — including young children — if they didn’t follow his orders.

The masked prowler initially said he only wanted their money to earn their co-operation, ordering women to bind their husbands or boyfriends face down in bed with shoelaces.

He piled dishes on the backs of men and said they would both be killed if he heard the plates crash during repeated rapes.

At a home in Contra Costa County in the fall of 1978, he told a woman he would cut her baby boy’s ear off if she didn’t perform oral sex after he raped her.

“I admit,” DeAngelo said after the prosecutor read the description of that crime.

He stole assorted items, sometimes a few bottles of Budweiser and some cash, other times diamond rings. He slipped off into the dark on foot or by bicycle and even evaded police who at times believed they came close to catching him.

DeAngelo knew the territory well.

He started on the police force in the San Joaquin Valley farm town of Exeter in 1973, where he committed his first killing.

DeAngelo was among the officers trying to find a serial burglar responsible for about 100 break-ins in the neighbouring city of Visalia.

Community college professor Claude Snelling was killed by the suspected “Visalia Ransacker” after trying to prevent him from kidnapping his 16-year-old daughter.

After three years on the force, DeAngelo moved back to the Sacramento area, where he worked for the Auburn Police Department in the Sierra foothills until 1979 when he was caught shoplifting dog repellent and a hammer — two items that could be of use to a burglar.

After that arrest, which cost him his job, DeAngelo acted crazy in an attempt to avoid charges, Ho said. He cast doubt on DeAngelo’s rambling in the interrogation room three decades later, saying he had similarly “feigned feeble incoherence.”

James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, said most serial killers do not have dual personalities or inner voices, though movies often portray them that way.

Serial killers who get away with attacks for years are usually cunning and organized. Someone who suffers from a serious mental illness isn’t capable of that. Serial killers who blame an alter-ego for their crimes are usually faking it, he said.

“It’s self-serving for someone to suggest that they did all of these things because of this voice: ‘Don’t blame me, blame the voice,’” Fox said.

A guilty plea and life sentence avoids lengthy and expensive litigation, prosecutors said in defending the deal that will bring a life sentence without parole. Victims will confront DeAngelo during a lengthy sentencing beginning Aug. 17.

Victims began to stand in the audience as accounts of their attacks were read. Nearly two dozen were on their feet in solidarity as a prosecutor from Sacramento — where most of his sexual assaults took place — detailed each case. They cheered and laughed when Deputy District Attorney Amy Holliday noted victims consistently reported DeAngelo had a small penis.

One man, Victor Hayes, who was held at gunpoint while his girlfriend was raped in 1977, shouted out that he wanted his name read aloud.

“I’ve been waiting for 43 years. I’m not ashamed of what happened. I’ve never been John Doe in my life,” Hayes said later. “I want accountability and accountability starts with my name.”

Gay Hardwick said she was glad her assault was recognized even though DeAngelo couldn’t be charged — and with the knowledge he would die in prison.

“It’s unfortunate that he’s not younger and able to serve a longer sentence,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that he was able to live the prime of his life unfettered, and that the rest of us had to carry a burden for all those years.”

___

Melley reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press journalist Stefanie Dazio contributed from Los Angeles.

Don Thompson And Brian Melley, The Associated Press

@repost Legal Separation Lawyer

Via Custody Lawyer

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/06/30/golden-state-killer-admits-murders-rapes-for-life-in-prison/

By The Wall of Law June 30, 2020 Off

Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively Donate $200,000 To Support Indigenous Women Leaders

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively attend the U.S. premiere of

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — Movie stars Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are donating $200,000 to an institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia to help promote Indigenous women’s leadership.

A release says the donation by the Hollywood couple is to kick-start the Coady Institute’s goal of raising $1 million for its International Centre for Women’s Leadership and the centre’s Indigenous programming.

Reynolds is a Canadian actor who has starred in films such as “Deadpool” and “Green Lantern,” while his spouse Blake Lively is an American film actor whose credits include “Green Lantern” and “A Simple Favor.”

In a statement issued through the university, Reynolds said he and Lively are proud to be associated with the Coady Institute.

“The world’s changing quickly, and one thing we’re sure of is that communities are best led from within,” Reynolds said. “Indigenous women are the leaders who will develop and implement approaches to increase social capital of their own communities, organizations and nations.”

Karri-Lynn Paul, the lead facilitator of the Indigenous women in community leadership program and one of its graduates, says a group of mentors and graduates from the past 10 years is examining ways to develop the program at the institute in Antigonish.

The institute is aiming to expand its offerings of leadership programs across the country for First Nations, Metis and Inuit women leaders.

The world’s changing quickly, and one thing we’re sure of is that communities are best led from within.Ryan Reynolds

Paul, a Maliseet from the Woodstock First Nation in New Brunswick, said the program currently lasts five months and the institute is testing shorter, one-week courses based in Indigenous communities.

She says the expansion of the one-week programs in communities around the country is a particular priority.

“For many Indigenous women, there is a lot of work to do caring for our communities,” Paul said, and travelling to the Nova Scotia campus for several weeks is not always feasible.

Paul said she came to St. Francis Xavier as a new mother to take the program in 2011, and it funded her mother to provide child care while she was studying.

She interviewed female chiefs and councillors in Maliseet communities for her study project, preparing a paper, a documentary and a website to showcase their stories.

Paul said when students come to Antigonish, they typically spend several weeks on the campus learning about their leadership strengths and areas they need to work on.

From this stage, the students study how to build up their home communities. The students then spend three months in the community working on a project.

Paul, who is now based in Calgary, said the projects range widely, from a recent one in Vancouver that helped women learn safety and self-protection skills to another in rural Ontario that surveyed women on the most urgent needs of their island reserve.

“The projects are an opportunity for the women to showcase their leadership, and to lift them up,” said Paul.

A ‘tremendous boost’

Graduates have gone on to become leaders on band councils and, in one case, a member of the legislative assembly in Nunavut, Paul said. Many carry on to undergraduate and graduate level university programs.

Paul said Marie Delorme, an adviser to the Coady Institute and chief executive of the Imagination Group of Companies, met Reynolds and recommended some potential ways for him to provide philanthropic support to Canadian Indigenous communities.

“He did some research on the programs she recommended, and he chose Coady,” Paul said.

“Reynolds supports Black Lives Matter, but he also said, ‘I need to look to my own country and what’s going on there.’ ”

Eileen Alma, director of Coady’s International Centre for Women’s Leadership, says the actors’ commitment to learning more about Indigenous issues has been energizing to the Coady Institute.

“They have added a tremendous boost to our effort to amplify Indigenous women’s voices locally and globally,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020.

Also on HuffPost:

@repost Joint Legal Custody

Via Family Law Office

source https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/ryan-reynolds-blake-lively-indigenous-women_ca_5efa8d04c5b612083c51c8d9

By The Wall of Law June 30, 2020 Off

How To De-Escalate A Mental Health Emergency Without Calling The Police

Every time Asante Haughton leaves his home, he sees someone in distress. For the Jamaican-born mental health advocate, encountering a person experiencing homelessness going through a bad mental health episode in public happens often in his Toronto neighbourhood. What’s also common, Haughton said, is seeing them become victims when police get involved.  

“People get tackled to the ground, hogtied, choked out and beat up because someone called the police and they escalated the situation,” he told HuffPost Canada. He’s also disappointed with how police have intervened in his own mental health struggles and those of his loved ones. “For me, it never seemed like they were actually helpful.” 

Who do you call during a mental health emergency? Dialing 911 seems like the only possible action concerned Canadians can take, but doing so has shown to have fatal consequences for those most marginalized. In the past few months, Canadian police have killed five Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) during wellness checks: D’Andre Campbell, Rodney Levi, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and Chantel Moore.

Watch: Black Lives Matter Toronto calls for defunding police following death of Korchinski-Paquet and others. Story continues below. 

The latest dead is Ejaz Choudry, a Pakistani immigrant killed in his home by police last week. And according to a recent lawsuit filed by B.C. nursing student Mona Wang, having an anxiety attack in January led to injuries caused by an RCMP wellness check. 

“Wellness checks” are defined as police responding to concerns that a person is having a mental health emergency. As Global News reports, when police take someone into custody under their provincial mental health act, handcuffs are usually involved.  

Mental health response teams do exist, but involve police

Aside from the growing support to defund Canadian police, many are also advocating for non-police alternatives to mental health emergencies, as unarmed professionals wouldn’t have the means to kill without lawful prosecution. Haughton and Rachel Bromberg co-founded Reach Out Response Network, a group that’s lobbying Toronto city officials to divert mental health calls to the 811 healthline; it comes on the heels of another campaign for a federal 911 alternative.

Bromberg, who’s also the Canadian national coordinator for the International Mobile Response Association (IMSA), has researched mobile crisis teams around the world. In Canada, Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams (MCIT) and similar team models deployed by emergency services always mean a police officer will be involved; mental health workers are partnered with cops to answer calls, which doesn’t please critics who want anyone armed out of the equation altogether.

In cities like Toronto, these response teams are never the first on the scene of a 911 call and only available during office hours, which organizations like the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario have long decried

There are response teams made up of solely mental health experts; mobile interventions by unaccompanied trained professionals are run by non-government organizations, like Toronto’s Gerstein Crisis Centre or Montreal’s Tracom, but they have limited resources and can’t always respond immediately. 

While no non-police alternative for mental health emergencies may be immediately available on a national scale, Canadians worried about police violence may want to be aware of what experts do when someone is in crisis and emergency services aren’t the first option or are still on their way. 

HuffPost Canada spoke to Canadian mental health workers experienced in de-escalating those in crisis without hurting anyone or being armed. They shared strategies they exhaust before calling 911 as a last resort. Not all tactics may be adaptable and Canadians shouldn’t take on safety risks they’re uncomfortable with:

Unlearn stereotypes about mental health and violence

The widespread belief that people with mental illness are violent is false, Harvard Medical School research finds. In fact, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) states that they’re more likely to be victims of violence

Make the person in crisis feel safe with your presence 

If someone is in crisis, how are you physically reacting to their emotional state? And what tone of voice are you using?

These are questions Steven Parker from Ottawa social service organization Shepherds of Good Hope uses when teaching staff members non-violent crisis intervention strategies. 

“Just being physically present is an intervention, don’t take that for granted,” Parker advised. “The message that people in distress actually receive are in our non-verbal communication, not necessarily in what we say.” 

There’s no playbook for navigating mental health crises, Parker said, as being emotionally attuned to someone’s needs and having a previous, positive rapport will be a bigger factor in calming someone. In the case of several deaths related to police killings of Canadians, the family members of Choudry and Korchinski-Paquet have criticized officers in the media for refusing loved ones’ entry into homes to help de-escalate. 

“We told them, ‘Let the family intervene’ — because that is one of the interventions when someone is schizophrenic,” Choudry’s nephew, Hashim Choudhary, told CBC. “They didn’t let the family intervene … They just pushed them back.”

Mental health experts who are trained like Parker or support peers, such as family members who have assisted de-escalation before, will have more experience gauging the best ways to adapt their presence to the type of distress someone is experiencing. 

What can be done by anyone and make a world of difference is body language: Making non-threatening eye contact, unfolding arms, and not raising your voice can keep tensions from getting worse. 

Avoid overreacting (or underreacting)

It’s human nature to respond to perceived aggression, such as someone yelling at you for a reaction, with anger. Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) advises against overreacting or getting into a power struggle because of flaring tempers, as giving in to these emotions and arguing will only escalate bad moods or unstable thinking. 

It’s also worth not overreacting to behaviour that may be alarming to you because it seems eccentric, but is harmless. Similarly, immediate danger should be recognized as such. 

“When people act weird or lose their minds, it is easy to overreact. It’s also easy to underreact,” states a crisis guide by mental health advocacy group The Fireweed Collective. “If someone is actually seriously attempting suicide or doing something extremely dangerous like lying down on a busy freeway, getting the police involved might save their life. But if someone picks up a knife [to feel safer, but isn’t using it] and is walking around the kitchen talking about UFOs, don’t assume the worst and call the cops.”

If a supporter needs to calm themselves in order to help someone in crisis, it may be helpful to follow CPI’s directives for keeping cool under pressure: Slow and deep breathes can help, as does assessing the situation in terms of what dangers are or are not likely. Sometimes, waiting out a crisis with supervision or allowing the person to express themselves (as long as it doesn’t endanger anyone) may be the safest route for all involved.  

Remember that people are people

For some marginalized people it may be reassuring to see someone they have a shared background with. In Fader’s experience running a drug user resource centre, this helped ensure people weren’t dehumanized. 

Many told HuffPost Canada they recommended de-escalating in teams, however one-on-ones may be useful if someone is overwhelmed by attention and feels trapped.

“Say an Indigenous man needed de-escalating, we always made sure somebody Indigenous was a peer or a worker, someone part of the conversation,” she said. “If there was a woman, there would always be a woman on the team. That’s just part of respect. Remembering that people are people works so much of the time.”

Part of that respect can look like taking care of their basic needs. Offering them water, food, or helping them fall asleep might ease them. It can also involve taking care of them once the crisis subsides, as well as keeping tabs on them if external parties get involved. 

Respect what they’re going through

Don’t get hung-up on saying the right thing to comfort them, but do make sure you aren’t saying anything invalidating, Haughton said. 

“People become agitated because people are not listening to them,” he said. For example, if someone hallucinates, hears voices, or believes delusions, refuting what they experience can escalate the situation. “What works for me and what I’ve been taught is to listen and provide space for the person. What they’re experiencing is very authentic to them at that moment.”

Phrases like “I can’t see them but I know you can,” which the Connecticut Mental Health Center suggests, can be useful, unlike invalidating statements like “That’s not real.”

People with weapons aren’t necessarily going to use them

As unarmed social service workers, Tanya Fader and her colleagues have de-escalated people with weapons hundreds of times. Fader, who is the director of programming at PHS Community Society in Vancouver, says they’re able to do so because of their situational assessment skills.

“Are they having a psychotic break? Are they a danger to themselves and others, or are they just holding it?” she said, as an example. “Are they holding a knife for their own sense of security, to feel safer, or to use it?” 

If someone is holding a weapon to feel safer, there are phrases that can promote everyone’s wellbeing, as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Dr. Brittany Poynter illustrates.

“Instead of saying, ‘No weapons allowed here, give it to us or we’ll call the police,’ I might say: ‘I’m so glad you’re at the hospital. You’re in a safe place now,” Poynter wrote for the Toronto Star. “We’re going to hold on to the knife for you, so that we can all be safe. Let’s sit down and talk.’”

Trauma-informed approaches are necessary

One of the co-founders of PHS Community Society had a famous saying when it came to de-escalation: “Remember, it’s about their pain.” 

“People tend to go, ‘Oh, they’re threatening me.’ No, it’s not about you,” Fader explained. “They’re really suffering.”  

Are they holding a knife for their own sense of security, to feel safer, or to use it?Tanya Fader

Both Fader and Parker’s organizations operate from trauma-informed frameworks, which takes into account how prior trauma can affect someone and avoids re-traumatizing someone when providing services an approach not necessarily at the forefront of law enforcement strategies or laypeople’s minds, when crisis can seem scary and uncomfortable from the outside looking in.

For the two of them, addressing the root causes of a mental health crisis involves putting more resources into anti-poverty work and mental health care.  

Fader said that addressing trauma often starts in childhood and needs to take culture into account. For Indigenous populations, family removal, abuse, and settler-colonialism can lead to someone adopting survival behaviours that may lead to self-harm later in life, Fader noted.

Understand the lingering effects of trauma

If a Canadian decides to call in another party on a loved one, such as the police, they should consider how their friend or family member may have previously experienced harm during mental health interventions with strangers.    

Bromberg has worked in the mental health field for several years. When fielding crisis lines, she often worried about a caller’s safety when dispatching police which crisis line workers are legally obligated to do when someone is in imminent danger, Fader and Bromberg confirm.

“I have heard so many clients tell me about how scary it was when police showed up yelling, tackling and handcuffing them,” she said. “They had nightmares and develop PTSD from that. Every time when they see a police officer walking down the street, they start shaking and crying.” 

It’s also worth knowing that even within the psychiatric system, patients can experience harm and abuses of their rights. As the CMHA reports, getting involuntarily institutionalized through the Mental Health Act — also known as “getting formed” — can be a stressful experience for anyone. People on the margins, such as Black men, have historically and continue to report oppressive treatment in in-patient care. 

Canadians can get training 

There’s no national resource that provides trauma-informed mental health first responder training, but Fader hopes ongoing discussions about mental health lead to it. 

Until that happens, Canadians may find it helpful to equip themselves with de-escalation skills through training sessions like NVCI; Parker recommends taking a mental health first aid course  and a suicide prevention program similar to Ottawa’s safeTALK

Many people who have experienced mental health struggles and abuse due to police or institutionalization have found solidarity and support in peer-led groups like the Hearing Voices Cafe and supporting advocacy by the Mad or psychiatric survivor/user/consumer movement.

The Fireweed Collective, formerly known as The Icarus Project, is a long-running peer-led mental health group. In their crisis toolkit, escalation prevention includes encouraging sleep and being realistic about one’s reaction to non-conventional behaviour. 

Safety planning is another tool that people who have a history of mental health struggles use to prevent police violence getting enacted on them. In their crisis guide, the U.S. National Alliance on Mental Illness includes a sample crisis plan that the person and their supporters can develop to reduce trauma, which may or may not include alternatives to police involvement. 

Open Table Nashville released a trauma-informed guide for protestors de-escalating at events, which include examples of effective questions to ask such as, “If being here is not working out for you, can I help you get somewhere else?” or diverting attention with safe distracting topics. 

Want to get involved with advocacy? For the Reach Out Support Network, they’re hoping Canadians contact them if they’re looking to support or learn more about how non-police mental health alternatives can look like.  

Are you in a crisis? If you need help, contact Crisis Services Canada at their website or by calling 1-833-456-4566. If you know someone who may be having thoughts of suicide, visit CAMH’s resource to learn how to talk about suicide with the person you’re worried about.

Also on HuffPost: 

@repost How Long Can You Be Legally Separated

Via Child Custody

source https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/deescalate-mental-health-crisis-tips_ca_5ef67d60c5b6ca97090fa2b1

By The Wall of Law June 30, 2020 Off

How To De-Escalate A Mental Health Emergency Without Calling The Police

Every time Asante Haughton leaves his home, he sees someone in distress. For the Jamaican-born mental health advocate, encountering a person experiencing homelessness going through a bad mental health episode in public happens often in his Toronto neighbourhood. What’s also common, Haughton said, is seeing them become victims when police get involved.  

“People get tackled to the ground, hogtied, choked out and beat up because someone called the police and they escalated the situation,” he told HuffPost Canada. He’s also disappointed with how police have intervened in his own mental health struggles and those of his loved ones. “For me, it never seemed like they were actually helpful.” 

Who do you call during a mental health emergency? Dialing 911 seems like the only possible action concerned Canadians can take, but doing so has shown to have fatal consequences for those most marginalized. In the past few months, Canadian police have killed five Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) during wellness checks: D’Andre Campbell, Rodney Levi, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and Chantel Moore.

Watch: Black Lives Matter Toronto calls for defunding police following death of Korchinski-Paquet and others. Story continues below. 

The latest dead is Ejaz Choudry, a Pakistani immigrant killed in his home by police last week. And according to a recent lawsuit filed by B.C. nursing student Mona Wang, having an anxiety attack in January led to injuries caused by an RCMP wellness check. 

“Wellness checks” are defined as police responding to concerns that a person is having a mental health emergency. As Global News reports, when police take someone into custody under their provincial mental health act, handcuffs are usually involved.  

Mental health response teams do exist, but involve police

Aside from the growing support to defund Canadian police, many are also advocating for non-police alternatives to mental health emergencies, as unarmed professionals wouldn’t have the means to kill without lawful prosecution. Haughton and Rachel Bromberg co-founded Reach Out Response Network, a group that’s lobbying Toronto city officials to divert mental health calls to the 811 healthline; it comes on the heels of another campaign for a federal 911 alternative.

Bromberg, who’s also the Canadian national coordinator for the International Mobile Response Association (IMSA), has researched mobile crisis teams around the world. In Canada, Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams (MCIT) and similar team models deployed by emergency services always mean a police officer will be involved; mental health workers are partnered with cops to answer calls, which doesn’t please critics who want anyone armed out of the equation altogether.

In cities like Toronto, these response teams are never the first on the scene of a 911 call and only available during office hours, which organizations like the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario have long decried

There are response teams made up of solely mental health experts; mobile interventions by unaccompanied trained professionals are run by non-government organizations, like Toronto’s Gerstein Crisis Centre or Montreal’s Tracom, but they have limited resources and can’t always respond immediately. 

While no non-police alternative for mental health emergencies may be immediately available on a national scale, Canadians worried about police violence may want to be aware of what experts do when someone is in crisis and emergency services aren’t the first option or are still on their way. 

HuffPost Canada spoke to Canadian mental health workers experienced in de-escalating those in crisis without hurting anyone or being armed. They shared strategies they exhaust before calling 911 as a last resort. Not all tactics may be adaptable and Canadians shouldn’t take on safety risks they’re uncomfortable with:

Unlearn stereotypes about mental health and violence

The widespread belief that people with mental illness are violent is false, Harvard Medical School research finds. In fact, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) states that they’re more likely to be victims of violence

Make the person in crisis feel safe with your presence 

If someone is in crisis, how are you physically reacting to their emotional state? And what tone of voice are you using?

These are questions Steven Parker from Ottawa social service organization Shepherds of Good Hope uses when teaching staff members non-violent crisis intervention strategies. 

“Just being physically present is an intervention, don’t take that for granted,” Parker advised. “The message that people in distress actually receive are in our non-verbal communication, not necessarily in what we say.” 

There’s no playbook for navigating mental health crises, Parker said, as being emotionally attuned to someone’s needs and having a previous, positive rapport will be a bigger factor in calming someone. In the case of several deaths related to police killings of Canadians, the family members of Choudry and Korchinski-Paquet have criticized officers in the media for refusing loved ones’ entry into homes to help de-escalate. 

“We told them, ‘Let the family intervene’ — because that is one of the interventions when someone is schizophrenic,” Choudry’s nephew, Hashim Choudhary, told CBC. “They didn’t let the family intervene … They just pushed them back.”

Mental health experts who are trained like Parker or support peers, such as family members who have assisted de-escalation before, will have more experience gauging the best ways to adapt their presence to the type of distress someone is experiencing. 

What can be done by anyone and make a world of difference is body language: Making non-threatening eye contact, unfolding arms, and not raising your voice can keep tensions from getting worse. 

Avoid overreacting (or underreacting)

It’s human nature to respond to perceived aggression, such as someone yelling at you for a reaction, with anger. Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) advises against overreacting or getting into a power struggle because of flaring tempers, as giving in to these emotions and arguing will only escalate bad moods or unstable thinking. 

It’s also worth not overreacting to behaviour that may be alarming to you because it seems eccentric, but is harmless. Similarly, immediate danger should be recognized as such. 

“When people act weird or lose their minds, it is easy to overreact. It’s also easy to underreact,” states a crisis guide by mental health advocacy group The Fireweed Collective. “If someone is actually seriously attempting suicide or doing something extremely dangerous like lying down on a busy freeway, getting the police involved might save their life. But if someone picks up a knife [to feel safer, but isn’t using it] and is walking around the kitchen talking about UFOs, don’t assume the worst and call the cops.”

If a supporter needs to calm themselves in order to help someone in crisis, it may be helpful to follow CPI’s directives for keeping cool under pressure: Slow and deep breathes can help, as does assessing the situation in terms of what dangers are or are not likely. Sometimes, waiting out a crisis with supervision or allowing the person to express themselves (as long as it doesn’t endanger anyone) may be the safest route for all involved.  

Remember that people are people

For some marginalized people it may be reassuring to see someone they have a shared background with. In Fader’s experience running a drug user resource centre, this helped ensure people weren’t dehumanized. 

Many told HuffPost Canada they recommended de-escalating in teams, however one-on-ones may be useful if someone is overwhelmed by attention and feels trapped.

“Say an Indigenous man needed de-escalating, we always made sure somebody Indigenous was a peer or a worker, someone part of the conversation,” she said. “If there was a woman, there would always be a woman on the team. That’s just part of respect. Remembering that people are people works so much of the time.”

Part of that respect can look like taking care of their basic needs. Offering them water, food, or helping them fall asleep might ease them. It can also involve taking care of them once the crisis subsides, as well as keeping tabs on them if external parties get involved. 

Respect what they’re going through

Don’t get hung-up on saying the right thing to comfort them, but do make sure you aren’t saying anything invalidating, Haughton said. 

“People become agitated because people are not listening to them,” he said. For example, if someone hallucinates, hears voices, or believes delusions, refuting what they experience can escalate the situation. “What works for me and what I’ve been taught is to listen and provide space for the person. What they’re experiencing is very authentic to them at that moment.”

Phrases like “I can’t see them but I know you can,” which the Connecticut Mental Health Center suggests, can be useful, unlike invalidating statements like “That’s not real.”

People with weapons aren’t necessarily going to use them

As unarmed social service workers, Tanya Fader and her colleagues have de-escalated people with weapons hundreds of times. Fader, who is the director of programming at PHS Community Society in Vancouver, says they’re able to do so because of their situational assessment skills.

“Are they having a psychotic break? Are they a danger to themselves and others, or are they just holding it?” she said, as an example. “Are they holding a knife for their own sense of security, to feel safer, or to use it?” 

If someone is holding a weapon to feel safer, there are phrases that can promote everyone’s wellbeing, as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Dr. Brittany Poynter illustrates.

“Instead of saying, ‘No weapons allowed here, give it to us or we’ll call the police,’ I might say: ‘I’m so glad you’re at the hospital. You’re in a safe place now,” Poynter wrote for the Toronto Star. “We’re going to hold on to the knife for you, so that we can all be safe. Let’s sit down and talk.’”

Trauma-informed approaches are necessary

One of the co-founders of PHS Community Society had a famous saying when it came to de-escalation: “Remember, it’s about their pain.” 

“People tend to go, ‘Oh, they’re threatening me.’ No, it’s not about you,” Fader explained. “They’re really suffering.”  

Are they holding a knife for their own sense of security, to feel safer, or to use it?Tanya Fader

Both Fader and Parker’s organizations operate from trauma-informed frameworks, which takes into account how prior trauma can affect someone and avoids re-traumatizing someone when providing services an approach not necessarily at the forefront of law enforcement strategies or laypeople’s minds, when crisis can seem scary and uncomfortable from the outside looking in.

For the two of them, addressing the root causes of a mental health crisis involves putting more resources into anti-poverty work and mental health care.  

Fader said that addressing trauma often starts in childhood and needs to take culture into account. For Indigenous populations, family removal, abuse, and settler-colonialism can lead to someone adopting survival behaviours that may lead to self-harm later in life, Fader noted.

Understand the lingering effects of trauma

If a Canadian decides to call in another party on a loved one, such as the police, they should consider how their friend or family member may have previously experienced harm during mental health interventions with strangers.    

Bromberg has worked in the mental health field for several years. When fielding crisis lines, she often worried about a caller’s safety when dispatching police which crisis line workers are legally obligated to do when someone is in imminent danger, Fader and Bromberg confirm.

“I have heard so many clients tell me about how scary it was when police showed up yelling, tackling and handcuffing them,” she said. “They had nightmares and develop PTSD from that. Every time when they see a police officer walking down the street, they start shaking and crying.” 

It’s also worth knowing that even within the psychiatric system, patients can experience harm and abuses of their rights. As the CMHA reports, getting involuntarily institutionalized through the Mental Health Act — also known as “getting formed” — can be a stressful experience for anyone. People on the margins, such as Black men, have historically and continue to report oppressive treatment in in-patient care. 

Canadians can get training 

There’s no national resource that provides trauma-informed mental health first responder training, but Fader hopes ongoing discussions about mental health lead to it. 

Until that happens, Canadians may find it helpful to equip themselves with de-escalation skills through training sessions like NVCI; Parker recommends taking a mental health first aid course  and a suicide prevention program similar to Ottawa’s safeTALK

Many people who have experienced mental health struggles and abuse due to police or institutionalization have found solidarity and support in peer-led groups like the Hearing Voices Cafe and supporting advocacy by the Mad or psychiatric survivor/user/consumer movement.

The Fireweed Collective, formerly known as The Icarus Project, is a long-running peer-led mental health group. In their crisis toolkit, escalation prevention includes encouraging sleep and being realistic about one’s reaction to non-conventional behaviour. 

Safety planning is another tool that people who have a history of mental health struggles use to prevent police violence getting enacted on them. In their crisis guide, the U.S. National Alliance on Mental Illness includes a sample crisis plan that the person and their supporters can develop to reduce trauma, which may or may not include alternatives to police involvement. 

Open Table Nashville released a trauma-informed guide for protestors de-escalating at events, which include examples of effective questions to ask such as, “If being here is not working out for you, can I help you get somewhere else?” or diverting attention with safe distracting topics. 

Want to get involved with advocacy? For the Reach Out Support Network, they’re hoping Canadians contact them if they’re looking to support or learn more about how non-police mental health alternatives can look like.  

Are you in a crisis? If you need help, contact Crisis Services Canada at their website or by calling 1-833-456-4566. If you know someone who may be having thoughts of suicide, visit CAMH’s resource to learn how to talk about suicide with the person you’re worried about.

Also on HuffPost: 

@repost Equalization of Net Family Property

Via Family Law Lawyers Free Consultation

source https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/deescalate-mental-health-crisis-tips_ca_5ef67d60c5b6ca97090fa2b1

By The Wall of Law June 30, 2020 Off

Prosecutor: Georgia deputies justified in fatal shooting

MACON, Ga. — State investigators found Georgia deputies were justified in fatally shooting a man suspected of tying up his wife, taking their three children and later crashing into three patrol cars outside her home when he returned, a prosecutor said Monday.

Macon-Bibb District Attorney David Cooke announced the findings of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into the death of Keith Young, WMAZ-TV reported.

Cooke said at a virtual news conference that no charges will be filed against deputies who shot the 30-year-old man on May 19. The deputies had been called to the home that day to investigate a reported domestic disturbance and possible kidnapping.

Young’s wife told deputies when they arrived at the home that day that the couple had been going through a divorce and that Young had tied her up and escaped with their children, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release afterward. She told deputies she got free and ran to a neighbour’s house to call for help.

While the deputies were taking a report and speaking to the woman outside the home, Young returned to the neighbourhood and sped up suddenly towards them, striking three patrol cars and another parked vehicle, according to the news release.

That’s when deputies fired gunshots at Young, the statement added.

Young later died at a hospital.

The news release said one deputy inside a patrol car sustained non-life threatening injuries. The children were found to be with Young’s family and were returned to their mother, the news release said.

The Associated Press

@repost Divorce Settlement Lawyers

Via Matrimonial Attorney

source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/06/29/prosecutor-georgia-deputies-justified-in-fatal-shooting/

By The Wall of Law June 29, 2020 Off