Biting the Hand

Princess Blanding
Photo credit: Joe Mahoney, Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Earlier this week, the governor had a ceremonial signing for the Marcus David Peters bill. This is the legislation that establishes a system to alert authorities of someone in a mental health crisis in order that mental health professionals can respond rather than just police. It is named after a young Richmond man who was experiencing a mental health crisis when he was shot and killed while attacking a policeman.

At the signing ceremony was Princess Blanding, Peters’ sister. She had been the most active and vocal supporter and advocate for such legislation. If you thought she expressed her gratitude to the Governor and the legislature for enacting the far-reaching legislation, you would be wrong.

In her remarks at the ceremony, addressing the Governor and legislators associated with the bill, she said, “Please take a moment to pat yourselves on the back for doing exactly what this racist, corrupt, and broken, I also add, system expected you to do: make the Marcus Alert bill a watered down, ineffective bill that will continue to ensure that having a mental health crisis results in a death sentence.”  (The video of her remarks is here.)

And what are her specific complaints? According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, she cited the following areas in a phone interview after the news conference:

Police role—In the bill she supported, health professionals would take the lead in responding to mental health crisis calls and police would serve as “back up if the scene becomes unstable or unsafe.” Furthermore, law-enforcement members of the community care (crisis response) teams could not carry lethal weapons, wear law-enforcement uniforms, or use marked police vehicles. In the bill that passed, law enforcement would still serve as back-up when a community care team responds, but the legislation also calls for the development of protocols and training for the responses by law-enforcement when “diversion to the comprehensive crisis system is not feasible.” Although the law emphasizes de-escalation and minimum use of force and encourages consideration of not using uniformed officers and marked police cars, it does not prohibit law-enforcement officers from carrying lethal weapons, wearing uniforms, or using marked vehicles.

Time line for implementation—The original bill would have required every locality to be participating in a Marcus Alert system that used a community care team by January 1, 2022. The enacted legislation phases in a roll-out, with all areas of the state served by a community care or mobile crisis team by July 1, 2026.

Disjointed application—The original legislation called for all localities, either individually or in conjunction with one or more other localities, to establish a Marcus Alert system and community care team. The enacted legislation places the responsibility on the state Department of Behavioral Health and Disability Services to develop the system in each community services board region.

Del. Jeff Bourne and Sen. Jennifer McClellan, both of Richmond and sponsors of the legislation favored by Blanding, did not show much spine in responding to Blanding’s attacks and in defending the enacted bill. “This bill doesn’t go far enough,” said McClellan. “While this is a first step, it cannot and will not be the last.” Bourne declared that the legislature may have to revisit the law to “course correct and make improvements. We’re going to get this right.”

My Soapbox  While this legislation is loaded with good intentions and establishes a policy that is pointed in the right direction, I continue to feel that its proponents have overestimated its ultimate effect. Community care teams, headed by mental health professionals backed up by law enforcement, may certainly succeed in de-escalating situations involving a mental health crisis and thereby avoiding tragic consequences. However, to think that a community care team serving a community services board region that is comprised of several large rural counties can respond quickly enough to any such situation anywhere in the region is wishful thinking. The same concern is probably applicable to a large urban area. The legislation itself recognizes this reality by requiring the development of protocols and training for law-enforcement officers that provide for “a specialized response by law enforcement designed … to ensure that individuals experiencing a mental health, substance abuse ,or developmental disability-related behavioral health crisis receive a specialized response when diversion to the comprehensive crisis system is not feasible.” Even then, unless every law-enforcement officer receives such training, there is no guarantee that a trained officer will be the one responding to a call or incident involving someone in a mental health crisis that was not recognized when the call came in or the incident occurred. In fact, that was the very situation involving Marcus David Peters.

Although Ms. Blanding is upset that the original bill was amended, the restricted role of law-enforcement in that bill was unreasonable and the timetable for implementing its provisions was unrealistic. The enacted bill is a significant improvement. Because Ms. Blanding did not get exactly what she proposed, she rejected the system as “racist and corrupt.” It is this kind of arrogant, non-compromising attitude that could lead to the downfall of progressives.

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23 responses to “Biting the Hand

  1. There’s no appeasing the hard left. Someday I hope we figure that out. Nobody tried harder than Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, but it didn’t help.

    “As hundreds of protesters gathered Monday outside a condo building where the mayor lives in the upscale Pearl District of Portland, Ore., some set off fireworks, sprayed graffiti and broke windows. After someone tossed a burning object inside, police pushed the crowd away and made 19 arrests.”

    “He’s not the only elected official leaving home in response to demonstrations that have increasingly targeted public officials where they live, including the Democratic mayors of Chicago, Seattle, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.”

  2. Welcome to the dark side, Dick.

  3. Anger — a tough emotion to get past. People keep wondering what white privilege is. Maybe it’s never having to be that angry.

    Ah, gone are the days when just being a Democrat or a Republican was a sufficient disqualifer. Now we need to mush the meat and bones like a roadkilled cat.

    • What happened to the stereotype of the “angry white male”?

      Is it past it’s expiration date? It’s at least 30 years old.

    • I don’t know about anger but hate is an emotion that lasts years or a lifetime. That means there is probably no hope of lack of divisiveness in our lifetimes.

    • NN – “Anger — a tough emotion to get past. People keep wondering what white privilege is. Maybe it’s never having to be that angry.”

      There are more white victims of unjustified police shootings than people of color, they just don’t get national news media attention. Whites have the “privilege” of being victims that the national news media doesn’t give a crap about.

      “Of the 91 police shootings that caused a death or serious injury reported in Virginia since a law passed in 2016 making those reports mandatory, only one has been ruled unjustified, according to Virginia State Police data.”

      “That shooting happened in February 2018 when two Lynchburg police officers fired into a home at 1:30 a.m., striking the startled and unarmed homeowner, Walker Sigler, when he tried to shut the door after seeing people with guns on his porch.”

      Walker Sigler is white.

      The Marcus David Peters shooting has been investigated numerous times, and each time it was ruled to be justified. Whites are also victims of justified shootings, but again, they don’t get the same level of attention.

      “A similar but less-high profile shooting happened last September in Richmond’s suburbs when police went to perform a welfare check on Gay Ellen Plack, a 57-year-old white woman who, according to relatives, suffered from bipolar disorder.”
      (From the link above)

      Perception does not always equal reality, particularly when the news media covers some tragedies far more extensively than others. That’s the reality of the situation, not “white privilege” as you allege.

  4. Baconator with extra cheese

    I so bbn so love the video of Princess Blanding calling Dr Governor Coonman and his Posse racists right on the steps of the Governor’s Mansion!
    It was truly a great day in Virginia. I hope BLM and the crew stays camped outside screaming at them forever.
    God bless the progressives and the ideology they all think they want. I just hioe they all get what they want.

  5. “I so bbn so” … ???

  6. While they might feign offense, seems to me these accusations play right into their progressive hands

  7. Maybe Northam and his colleagues will think twice before trying to help these losers.

  8. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Well the blue team says this is a step in the right direction. The bill sponsor claims that he will fight to amend and strengthen the law in the years ahead. We shall see. It would be a great thing to avoid tragedies such as what happened to Mr. Peters and Officer Michael Nyantakyi. Maybe the law will produce better outcomes.

  9. What kind of suicidal lunatic would arrive at a site of a fiasco like the one caused by Marcus David Peters unarmed, in street clothes from an unmarked car and walk toward the fracas trying to be helpful? Perhaps Princess Blanding would like to be the first to attempt such a stunt. How would the armed police on the scene even know that the person walking toward the unfolding catastrophe was a member of the rubber room squad and not some overly ambitious private citizen?

    Dick’s points about the severe logistical challenges of this program are also valid. Unless the new rubber room squad has almost as many members as the police it’s very likely that an armed, uniformed police officer will be the first on the scene. What should that police officer do when confronted with a person who is deranged and threatening physical violence against themselves or others? Politely ask the deranged person to “hold off on attacking passersby until the local rubber room squad can arrive”? One wonders what Ms Blanding would say if a deranged member of the Proud Boys knifed a person of color while an armed policeman was on the scene but failed to restrain the Proud Boy awaiting the arrival of rubber room squad members

    As for Princess Blanding’s hissy-fit on the Capitol steps … I’m with Baconator with extra cheese – a great day in Virginia again exposing NoPlan Northam as a governor who just doesn’t know what he’s doing.

  10. Baconator with extra cheese

    I had a close friend go through a psychotic break years ago. When I went to visit him in the psychiatric ward he went into a violent episode.
    There I watched approximately 2 Drs, 3 nurses, and 3 orderlies try to handle his violent episode. These are people who deal with this day in and day out and it was a complete struggle in a controlled environment with a patient they knew had no access to a weapon.
    How in in heck does anyone think one nonweapon carrying pysch squad member will subdue and calm a 240 lb man out on the street who hasn’t been searched for a weapon? I hope they can somehow find a person who is cross between a person-whiperer and a Steven Seagal who will work for $38k a year. If not, there will be a bunch of gut wrenching YouTube videos.

  11. And the “State of Presidents” continues its downward spiral. But for Uncle Sam’s spending in NoVA and Tidewater Virginia, where would the State be? Good thing the MSM is there to protect our elected officials on the left, including Mr. Blackface.

    When I was a kid, I often dressed as a bum/hobo for Halloween. My mother would help me construct a beard with burned cork or some type of black face paint. But she also made sure that I did not go beyond the “beard line.” I was taught that blackface was wrong. Maybe Northam’s problem is all his mother’s fault???

  12. Mr. Hall-Sizemore wrote:

    “Even then, unless every law-enforcement officer receives such training, there is no guarantee that a trained officer will be the one responding to a call or incident involving someone in a mental health crisis that was not recognized when the call came in or the incident occurred. In fact, that was the very situation involving Marcus David Peters.”

    All the training and empathy in the world won’t prevent some tragedies, especially in cases involving excited delirium or severe mental illness. There are times when the person won’t (or can’t) respond appropriately to de-escalation strategies. Well meaning legislation cannot change the fact that tragedies are sometimes unavoidable in certain situations.

  13. Utopia is an enticing mirage that tantalizes and frustrates because it is always out of reach. It is understandable that people do not want tragedies to occur, but “never happen again” solutions are seductive mirages that divert attention and effort from practical, attainable improvements. Experience shows that perfect solutions are elusive because no one has the knowledge and foresight to anticipate every contingency.

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