Members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) have received praise for handling a situation involving a man described in a news report as mentally disturbed and suspected of starting a fire in a room of a Laborie house on Tuesday.
HTS Evening News said the police used rubber bullets to subdue the man and showed footage of an officer firing one round, hitting him in the back when he resisted arrest.
The police subsequently apprehended him.
“The manner in which police officers demonstrated the responsible use of force and safely apprehended this gentleman suffering from mental illness is highly commendable,” the President of the National Council Of and For Persons With Disabilities (NCPD), Merphilus James, told St Lucia Times.
“We commend the actions of the police in this case who are often accused of using excessive force especially in their apprehension of people with mental illness,” James stated.
Nevertheless, he noted that inappropriate use of rubber bullets, as shown in protests worldwide, can cause severe injuries, increasing the population of people with disabilities.
“Here in this case we are very thankful that this incident was handled very well and the situation was de-escalated in this manner,” James told St Lucia Times.
He recalled that people with mental illness had made the news headlines for the desecration of church property, excessive force against them, and being abused in public and even in church in the past few months.
James observed that when people act violently because of a condition that is most times no fault of theirs, there are ways to handle them with utmost care and responsible force to ensure minimal harm to them and others.
And the NCPD President noted the need for continued education on mental health issues amid a myriad of mental problems plaguing people, including anxiety, depression, and psychosis.
James acknowledged that there had been an increase in the awareness of mental health issues over the years.
But he told St Lucia Times that the focus had been a lot on suicide and suicide prevention.
Headline photo courtesy HTS Evening News