By Diane Goldstein, 21-year law enforcement veteran, speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Law enforcement historically has been asked to deal with many sociological issues that, quite frankly, we either have not been adequately trained for or don’t have the appropriate resources to fix. Notably, one of the most difficult issues is the question of how to work with people who are homeless, many of whom have mental illness and/or drug abuse issues.
The beating and death of Kelly Thomas by Fullerton police officers caused outrage and backlash not just in Orange County where I live, but across the nation. Ron Thomas, Kelly’s dad, ensured accountability by snapping this shocking photograph. The incident resulted in the criminal prosecution of several officers and a trial which is exposing the stigma associated with drug addiction, mental illness and the culture of law enforcement made worse by the drug war. You need look no further than the online comment sections of police magazines to see the callous language that surrounds the discussion of drug policies, drug addicts or even the death of Thomas. Continue reading