Discuss the similarities and differences between crisis intervention

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Discuss the similarities and differences between crisis intervention and psychotherapy in a disaster scenario. Be specific.


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Chapter Four: I Can’t Breathe Trust, then verify.


Alternative facts are falsehoods. ―Chuck Todd

Never use emotions to avoid evidence. ―Unknown

Vignette: John, Jim, Jerry, and Don

Three young men, John, Jim, and Jerry, are having lunch together. They usually meet once a week and talk sports, politics, and work. Today, the topic is about the police killing of their former classmate. Don was a good guy who was everyone’s friend and a smart fellow. The officer arrested Don on a traffic violation. Don was pulled out of the car, handcuffed and pushed to the ground where he stayed unattended, according to bystanders. He died apparently because he was having trouble breathing. This experience is not isolated, and John, Jim, and Jerry continue to struggle with the conflicting accounts about what actually happened to their friend.

Introduction to the Chapter

One thing many are not talking about is the individual. It seems that people believe comments, especially negative ones, about people in general, without looking at the individuals involved. Instead, they lump a group into a category of evildoers. By doing this, especially where race is concerned, it implies that certain people of a particular race or group commit violent acts because they are incapable of knowing right from wrong. Whether the group they are categorizing is White, Black, police, or any other, characterizing the group’s behavior as a certain thing such as racist or violent based on an individual’s behavior seems out of place. This would be the same as saying that because most crimes are perceived to be committed by persons of color, then all people of color are criminals. Unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the particular group is organized and has carefully coordinated their course of action to terrorize someone, then tainting an entire group for the actions of a few is not only counterproductive and antagonistic, but also it lays a false foundation to build change. In incidents where police commit a crime against an individual, we never see a pack of police acting like wolves tracking down a person to kill them. Most incidents, like the case of George Floyd, involve two individuals directly involved in the use of force. In the Floyd case the other officers on scene did not intervene. This was due to a police culture problem, not evil intent. There is the issue of right and wrong and an individual’s capacity to understand the difference. We must not confuse antisocial behavior with an inability to know right from wrong. An officer who abuses a person in custody knows the difference and knows they are wrong, just as a person who sets a building on fire under the guise of protesting knows that activity is wrong. They justify their actions because, in their narcissistic world, their opinion is the only one that counts. This leads back to the original point. An individual’s actions should be considered primarily, and their actions should not taint or exonerate an entire group. Blaming an entire group for an individual’s actions is akin to shunning all the kids from one particular family in a neighborhood because their older brother is in prison. On the flip side of that, heroic great deeds of an individual should not bolster 31 the reputation of an entire group. The accomplishments of individuals collectively within the group give it credibility. One hero does not make a police department great. A group of heroes working collectively, producing good deeds, and shunning bad behavior as a group make a great police department. Individuals involved in protesting, breaking windows, and burning buildings may be caught up in the

overwhelming effects of group behavior. They may not have done these things as individuals. Police may do the same thing. They have “institutionalized group behavior,” also referred to as the police culture. They feel that other officers have their back no matter what. In fact, it is often drilled into officers in the academy that backing another officer is the most important thing an officer can do. Over time, that can translate into lying to cover bad behavior or abusing those in custody. This may be because the culture demands it or, in the latter case, allows it.

Policing During Turmoil: The Bare Statistics

In this time of political turmoil, slogans and symbols have emerged to define our conception of law enforcement. We constantly hear “Black Lives Matter!” “Defund the Police!” and “Law and Order!” These slogans are emotional and political. However, our job as social scientists is to avoid emotional and political arguments in our analysis. Rather, our job is to an al y z e t h e dat a . Therefore, we will ask: What does the data say about police–citizen encounters?

The Data

Let us begin by discussing what police officers actually do while on duty. Only a handful of cities post data on how officers spend their time. However, Asher and Horowitz (2020) analyzed the available data from 10 agencies. They found that officers spend approximately 40% of their time responding to 911 calls from citizens. These are usually “calls for service.” These involve family disturbances, “juvenile trouble,” handling the mentally ill, and traffic accidents. Also, police spend a significant portion of their time on self-initiated traffic stops. The police only spend about 4% of their time responding to calls for serious, violent crime. Gun violence was an even smaller portion of their time. Only 0.7% of the calls were spent responding to homicides and nonfatal shootings.

The author observed 1,338 police–citizen encounters over 7 years while studying a suburban police traffic incidents, the investigation of suspicious persons or incidents, reports,

department outside of a large Midwestern city (Klein, 2009, 2019). The 1,338 police–citizen contacts were divided into 10 categories:

disturbances, assistance calls, warrant service, other arrests, handling the mentally ill, juvenile apprehensions, and miscellaneous.

In brief, these 10 categories of police–citizen encounters produced the following results. Traffic

incidents (including traffic stops) involved 520 police–citizen encounters. Thirty-one arrests were the result of these incidents. There were 287 calls of suspicious persons or incidents. No arrests resulted from any of these calls. Seventy-six reports were taken. There were 154 disturbance calls. Sixty-one of these were family disturbances. These produced five arrests. There were 93 nonfamily disturbances. Three individuals were arrested in these incidents. There were 104 assistance calls. Most of these were to assist citizens with motor vehicle problems. There were 28 arrests for warrants. There were 49 people arrested for other reasons (these were usually for retail theft, alcohol intoxication, or drug possession). There were 12 incidents involving mentally ill persons. All of these individuals were turned over to their families or transported to a hospital by paramedics. There were 40 juvenile apprehensions. Eleven of these juveniles were ticketed and 15 were arrested. All but one were turned over to their parents. There were 53 miscellaneous calls or duties (administrative assignments, carnivals, parades, the Fourth of July fireworks displays, etc.).

The details of these police–citizen encounters are not what one would expect. The police are usually

perceived of as “crime fighters” who rush from call to call. (It sometimes is said that police officers are “slaves to their radios”). However, this does not appear to be the case. Five hundred and twenty police–citizen contacts were for traffic incidents (39% of all police–citizen encounters). There were 24 traffic accidents, 62 calls to back up another officer on a traffic stop, and six calls to remove traffic obstructions. These were all dispatched by the radio. However, officers made 428 traffic stops on their own initiative (32% of all police–citizen encounters). These stops were for traffic infractions or suspicious vehicles. These stops produced 259 verbal warnings, 63 warning tickets, 75 formal tickets, and 31 arrests. That is, traffic stops produced serious enforcement actions (arrests) in only 7% of all traffic stops.

There were 287 calls of suspicious persons or incidents. No arrests were made on any of these calls.

That was because the individuals were “GOA” (gone on arrival), the situation was innocuous, or the individuals were given a verbal warning and sent on their way. Seventy-six reports were taken. A few of these were passed on to the investigators. However, most were merely filed away. There were 154 disturbance calls. Fifty-six of these were family disturbances. These calls were treated seriously because of their potential for violence. Even though blows were struck in a number of these cases, only five arrests occurred. That was because these incidents were usually seen as the product of long-standing disputes between family members or intimates that could only be solved by the persons involved. (In some states, there are mandatory arrest statutes if violence has occurred in a domestic disturbance. However, in the state in which the research was conducted, the decision to arrest in such situations was left up to the discretion of the officer.) On such calls, the individuals were separated, calmed down, and “counseled.” A resolution was usually reached when one party agreed to leave the scene. Other disturbances, such as loud parties or teenagers throwing firecrackers, were handled more routinely. There were 90 of these calls. These calls produced three arrests. There were 104 assistance calls. Nine of these were to assist the fire department or paramedics and 14 were to assist other police agencies. Eighty-one of these calls were to assist a citizen. These were usually the result of a vehicle breakdown or “lockout.” The department expected the officers to respond to these calls since the chief stressed that the department was “a service-oriented agency.”

There were 28 warrant arrests. In many of these cases, the warrant was used as a tool to remove an individual from the street when the officers lacked enough evidence for an arrest. There were 49 other arrests. These included retail theft, intoxicated individuals, or young adults carrying small amounts of drugs. Twelve mentally ill persons were apprehended. None of these individuals had committed a serious crime. Instead, they had come to police attention because they had been “disorderly.” Since these individuals were not considered to be criminals, they were released to a relative without a charge or transported to a hospital by paramedics for evaluation and treatment.

Forty juveniles were apprehended. Fifteen juvenile arrests were made, and tickets were issued to 11 other juveniles. Thirteen juveniles were not charged and were released to their parents. One youth was turned over to a state-affiliated social service agency for foster care placement. All of these calls were considered to be a nuisance by the officers. It was common for officers to say that juvenile apprehensions were a waste of time since “nothing ever happens to these kids.” Fifty-four calls were listed under “miscellaneous.” Twenty of these were for routine administrative functions, such as vehicle repairs or the delivery of reports. Also included in this category were carnivals, parades, and the Fourth of July fireworks display. Some officers considered these assignments to be fun, since they could “meet and greet” the public. Other officers considered them to be tedious. In either case, they did not involve individual calls; instead, they consisted of noncriminal actions, such as crowd control and traffic directions.

These 1,358 incidents produced 131 arrests. This is less than 10% of all police–citizen encounters. In other words, in 90% of all cases, police officers dealt with citizens by talking. In the 7 years in which the researcher observed police patrol, there were only five instances in which officers pulled their guns. No shots were fired in these situations. The researcher witnessed only two fights in 7 years between officers and civilians (one was very brief and the other was the repeated restraint of a drunken driver). However, during the research period, an incident occurred in which one officer was shot and one suspect was killed. The researcher was not present at the incident.

Case Studies: Specific Encounters

We have noted that the use of force in police–citizen encounters was rare. The use of fatal force was very rare. The police use of nondeadly force was 0.3% among Whites and Hispanics. It was 0.6 among Blacks. Fatal force against Whites was 0.0003%, against Hispanics it was 0.0009%, and against Blacks it was 0.0014% (Hyland et al., 2015). What explains this discrepancy? The data is instructive. However, it does not explain why these actions occurred. So, let us first describe, and later analyze, several fatal police–citizen encounters. Then we will attempt to identify any underlying patterns in these cases.

Michael Brown

The Black Lives Matter movement began in response to the killing of Michael Brown in 2014.3 After the incident, 40 FBI agents were assigned to investigate the incident. This section is based upon the report of the shooting by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (2015; see also, Klein, 2019).

At about noon on August 9, 2014, an encounter between Officer Darren Wilson, who was White, aged 28, and Mr. Michael Brown, who was Black, aged 18, occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. The encounter lasted about 2 minutes.

Officer Wilson was westbound on Canfield Drive when he saw Mr. Brown and another Black male walking eastbound in the middle of the street. A theft had recently occurred at a local market. Officer Wilson was aware of the incident through a radio transmission.

When Officer Wilson encountered the two young men, he told them to walk on the sidewalk. Officer Wilson suspected these young men were involved in the robbery and called for backup. Officer Wilson then blocked the street and stopped the two young men from proceeding further. Officer Wilson attempted to open his car door and said, “Hey, come here.” Brown responded by saying, “What the fuck are you going to do?” Brown then slammed Officer Wilson’s car door shut. Officer Wilson responded by saying, “Get back.” Brown then leaned into the driver’s side window with his arms and upper body and began “swinging wildly.” Brown punched Officer Wilson twice in the jaw. Brown also hit Officer Wilson twice on the side of his face and grabbed him. Officer Wilson stated that he feared that Brown’s blows would soon render him unconscious.

Officer Wilson did not carry a Taser. The officer could not reach his mace, flashlight, or baton. Officer

Wilson felt his gun was his only option. He pulled his weapon from his holster. Brown then said, “You are too much of a pussy to shoot.” Brown then put his hand over Officer Wilson’s right hand and gained control of his weapon. Brown pushed the weapon down so that it pointed at Officer Wilson’s left hip.

Laquan McDonald

Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old Black youth, was seen breaking into trucks on October 20, 2014, in Chicago. The police were called and Laquan fled. The first responding officers saw him walking along the street. At 9:53 p.m., one officer calmly radioed, “This guy, uh, kind of walking away.” Then the officer stated, “He has a knife in his hand.”

Two officers began trailing him. One officer was on foot. The other officer was in their squad car.

Laquan spiked one of the squad car’s tires with his 3-inch knife. The officers did not respond. The officers called for a Taser. “Anybody have a Taser?” the dispatcher asked. “Looking for a Taser, armed offender,” the dispatcher added. A minute and a half later, an officer called: “Walking towards Pulaski from Keeler, eastbound on 40th Street. Again, armed with a knife.” A minute later, the dispatcher repeated the call for a Taser. “Anybody close yet?” she asked. An officer reported that Laquan slashed a squad car’s tire. The officers in several squad cars radioed that they were enroute. The two officers who had been trailing Laquan for nearly half a mile continued to do so (Crepeau & Wong, 2015).

A squad car with a dashboard video camera pulled up to the scene. On the video, Laquan was seen

walking down the middle of a four-lane roadway. He had a knife in one hand by his side. There was a squad car to his left. As the squad car with the video pulled up, Laquan veered to his right. Moments later, other units arrived. Two officers quickly exited one of the vehicles. Laquan appeared to be over 10 feet from those two officers. Within seconds, one of the officers from that vehicle, Officer Jason Van Dyke, shot Laquan 16 times in 15 seconds. Laquan fell to the ground. Some of the rounds impacted Laquan as he lay on the ground. Officer Van Dyke then attempted to reload his weapon. His partner stopped him. One officer came up to Laquan and kicked the knife out of his hand. Two other officers arrived and casually walked past Laquan lying in the street. The video ended at that point.

An officer then yelled out over his radio, “Shots fired by the police! It’s shots fired by the police squad.

Get the ambulance over here.” “You guys OK?” the dispatcher asked. “Ten-four, everything’s fine … roll the ambulance over here.” An ambulance arrived while Laquan was still alive. However, he died in route to the hospital.

After months of resistance from attorneys from the City of Chicago, a judge ordered the video to be

released in November, 2015. After the video was released, Van Dyke was indicted for murder. In October, 2018, Van Dyke was tried and convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison (Davey & Smith, 2015; Crepeau et al., 2018; Ockerman, 2019.


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