We Have the Right to Violate You!

English: New York City Police officers being d...
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English: An NYPD Command Unit.
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Imagine that you have reported wrongdoing  to the people at the top of the agency and in return you become investigated. Your higher ups come to your house and have you sent to a psychiatric ward without your consent and without a psychiatric evaluation. Your family does not know where you are. Is this a story about psychiatric abuse in the Soviet Union? No, it is  abuse of power by the New York City Police Department. The very institution charged with enforcing the laws is in fact a lawbreaker. And even after being exposed for their venal behavior, the police routinely visit a police officer on leave far away from the city where they have no jurisdiction and demand that he “act  like a man” and return with them for even more abuse. As if to tell him, “we have the right to abuse you.”

On September 10, 2010 the public radio program This American Life aired a series of stories  under the theme “you have the right to remain silent” about  a groups of individuals who at great personal cost spoke up about injustices they witnessed being committed. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/414/right-to-remain-silent The most gripping story was about Adrian Schoolcraft, who exposed a widespread practice among his fellow officers of police inventing reasons to stop and arrest people. Such concerns as probable  cause, evidence and constitutional rights were thrown out the window in this reckless effort to enforce so-called “quality of life” issues. At the same time more serious crimes were being ignored or downgraded.

The Village Voice series that broke Schoolcraft’s story, written by Graham Rayman, is here. Schoolcraft’s website looking for other cops to come forward is here.

My concern is with the psychiatric abuse part of the story. If  you listen to Schoolcraft’s story, you will hear a recording of the incident I referred to in the introduction to this blog. His superiors came to his apartment under false pretenses and decided that his refusal to leave with them constituted mental illness. In my work as a peer specialist the police I have seen are scrupulous in informing mental health consumers of their rights. There are very strict procedures to be followed when declaring that someone is exhibiting dangerous behavior and must be transported to an institution. But the New York City police felt they were above this law. That is the most dangerous part of what happened to Schoolcraft.

What if others are being locked away under similar circumstances? We must continue to advocate for the right not to be violated. Employers can not be allowed to manipulate our minds, the way that the police attempted to manipulate Schoolcraft’s. We must be vigilant. Schoolcraft could be anyone. Say no to mental abuse.