We’re from the government and we’re here to help . . .

Via Radley Balko, a 16 year old boy was shot by a sniper in Cherokee County, Georgia, after his parents called 911 – the boy had a gun and was suicidal, and his parents called for help.

According to his parents, Andrew Messina had a bad day at school and the pressure was so overwhelming, he grabbed a gun and threatened to kill himself.

Lisa Messina called the cops in desperation, hoping an officer would come talk to him. But what arrived was an army of deputies, an armored tank and a sniper.

I tell everyone who asks me that they should never call the police unless they absolutely have to – once you make the call there is no predicting what they will do when they arrive.  If you are having trouble with a mentally or emotionally disturbed family member, police are not there to help – they are not mental health professionals, and you need to consider that the person responding to your call may be a gun-toting adrenaline junkie with a license to kill, a heightened sense of self-preservation, and not much patience.

In Horry County, and possibly in other areas of the state, police are telling citizens that if they get a call for a domestic violence related call, they have to arrest someone.  I have talked to people who called for help and ended up going to jail themselves, I have talked to people who committed no crime but were jailed because their neighbor called the police, and I have talked to people whose loved ones were arrested because they called the police asking for help, thinking that the police would talk to their loved one or perhaps take them to a hospital.

By and large our police are not problem-solvers, and they are not a “helping profession.”  They often arrive on scene after the action is over and then either make an arrest or collect evidence, but if they arrive during the action they are primarily equipped to deal with it with violence.  At the end of the day, the most important rule for a police officer is that he or she survive to go home to their own family, and that their fellow officers do the same.

Despite everything I’ve just said, I am reminded of the many officers that I have dealt with over the years who have said to me that they want to make sure my client gets help.  The ones that have worked with us to keep a client’s record clean when we were able to get counseling or otherwise address the problem that led to an arrest in the few place.  And I wonder how many officers respond to situations like Andrew Messina’s and find a way to help the family instead of killing their child, but whose stories are not told by the media.  I do appreciate you.

One Response to “We’re from the government and we’re here to help . . .

  • charlotte ridings
    7 years ago

    Yes! I was just arrested on March 2, 2013 for a CDV that I did not do. I was geting the HELL beat outt of me, by a 6’3 245lb man. He keep hittingme in my head over and over and slapping so hard he knocked my glasses of they hit the kichen canor and went from one side to the other right in to the trash can. I was pulled all over the house and he spit in my face over and over, but then he started hitting me in the head again I started to see black spots and fell to the floor, and he just keep hitting me. Then he got me into the bedroom and hit me more , but he took a knife out and cut hisself 3x on his cheast and once on his back. And he rubbed the blood on me and she BITCH! you are going to jail for CDV as I called for EMT cause I have a pacemaker, the cops came to, never asked me a thing , would not let me do a report and would not take pictures until I got mean about it at the jail and then the cop told me I had to hurry up and get it done, so I did not get to put all that happened into the report. Then the cops left this guy in my appt. He tore the appt. apart. So if I went to jail,, why did he not?

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