I write in response to the article, “Deputies de-escalate encounter with a man deemed mentally ill” in the April 24 edition of the newspaper.
I have volunteered for the sheriff’s department until the normal process of aging — I am now a “youthful” 77 — made it no longer safe for me to drive a vehicle. While never a police officer, I have worked as a Burns security guard in Oregon, California, New Jersey, Woodstock, N.Y., Madison and Verona Wisc., as well as a public school instructor at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle a year after the Black Panthers took over the school and later in Tigard, Ore. During that time, I helped teach an alternative school called Alternative Futures in which our students did a complete census of the community and presented it to the city council.
I also have been an instructor for the University of Oregon. I have done “undercover” police work and was inappropriately issued a gun. In Los Angeles, I was assigned to check on a location where opiates were stored and my predecessor was overpowered and tied up by burglars and left lying in the bathroom.
I say all of this not to applaud or call attention to myself, but to establish a slight bit of credibility in applauding the newspaper in printing the article and to the sheriff’s deputies in their restraint when they might have used their weapons to deadly effect.
Two of my siblings are severely mentally ill, a sister in Orange County, Calif., and a brother in Springfield, Mo. While neither would harm anyone, both are capable of engaging in sudden and unpredictable actions that might cause a police offer to shoot first and ask questions later.
I commend the newspaper for printing the article and the deputies for taking care for doing “nothing” when it may be the most noble and effective course of action.