Create alternative for mental health emergencies
In a country with ever-increasing mental health issues within all stratums of society, why are police often the first responders to mental health emergencies? Are the police the members of society best equipped to handle people with mental health issues? Can we imagine no alternative?
A young man was shot to death March 20 by a State College borough officer as police attempted to serve a mental health warrant. In these situations, police are specifically sent to evaluate and potentially detain a person with known mental health issues. Police are not randomly encountering a person with such issues; they are deliberately reaching the individual. Are those whose primary work is not treating mental health — but who do have latitude to use deadly force — in the best position to reach these people in need?
That young man was Osaze Osagie, someone I’ve known and grown up with since a very young age. I also had the pleasure of knowing his family and other families from State College’s Nigerian community and cannot imagine a more kind and giving group of people. His family surely appreciates your thoughts and prayers, but we know that will not change the outcome the next time someone with mental health issues is killed by police. Heal the community by creating an alternative to police involvement in mental health emergencies.
Police deserve gratitude
Our police departments, local, state, or federal, are worthy of our support. You couldn’t pay me enough to dodge bullets or deal with the many sensitive issues they work with on a daily basis. They should be thanked for their service like we do with those in the military.
Gerrymandering undermines system
My grandfather told the story of reaching down to pet a cat nuzzling his leg, only to discover that the cat was, in fact, a skunk! Funny story, simple lesson — assumptions can lead to disastrous results. This lesson applies to gerrymandering.
As a nation, we have accepted the carving-up of electoral districts for political gain for almost as long as this country has existed. Our initial impulse is to believe that it’s pretty innocuous, that it all evens out in the end as voters demonstrate their own power at the ballot box. Nice kitty ...
During the past decade, however, computer mapping of voting districts has weaponized gerrymandering, enabling political parties to exercise extraordinary control over the outcome of elections in targeted districts. When political parties have that kind of control over the outcome of elections, representatives become far more motivated to align with party demands than to respond to the wishes of their constituents. Hmmm ... this may not be a cat.
Ultimately, gerrymandering enables political parties to wield immense control over politicians. Carol Anderson, in her book “One Person, No Vote,” shows attempts have been made to maintain that control for the long term through legislative abuses like strategic voter-roll purges, more restrictive voter-identification rules and denial of early voting — all of which minimize voting by selected groups. Oh, my God ... this is NOT a cat!
The sickening odor in current politics signals that gerrymandering is undermining our system of democracy. It’s not innocuous; it’s insidious.