Letters to the Editor – May 2008

Care not cuffs I am shocked and appalled. When I found out that you put out an article about CIT […]

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Care not cuffs

I am shocked and appalled. When I found out that you put out an article about CIT and the issues people with mental illness have within their community and in the criminal justice system, I immediately looked up the article [“Care, not cuffs,” April 10, 2008]. I just could not get past the words “to prevent police abuse.” I had communication with Sue Abderholden of NAMI, someone I have worked with many times in the past, and she let me know that she would never use such words. I know Sue and I believe her 100%. That leaves your staff writer and you. I had to read the article 4 times to get past those words and finally realized that it was a good article. Well written and accurate. Why the abuse? Where did that come from? Are you purposefully trying to throw gas on a flame? I work hard to train many officers in how to better respond to mental health crisis and often find many people with the same focus. Articles like this are only meant to do harm to our profession. I’m wondering if you are just trying to join the likes of some other press writes and “blame the cops”. I’m sorry; I thought more of your organization.

Sgt. Steve Wickelgren, MA
Minneapolis Police Depart.
President MN CIT Officers Association; [email protected]



I was informed that the following article was in your publication Access Press and that your staff decided to edit the title of the article, I am not sure why you did this. Was it to sensationalize the issue, due to your opinion of the police or your lack of knowledge about the issue in the article? [Care, not cuffs; Advocating mental health awareness to prevent police abuse, by Sue Abderholden.]

I am frustrated with your representation of the police. As a retired police sergeant and a mental health professional working in this area of how to get the best services to persons struggling with mental illness, I and my colleagues are working hard to encourage the police and when this type of representation comes out it sets that effort back.
Police officers have a very difficult job balancing the needs and safety of the individual, the needs and safety of the community and their own personal needs and safety. Most officers work very hard to handle each person they come in contact with with dignity, respect and compassion, while controlling the crisis incident.
 I would hope that you could give the officers the dignity, respect and compassion they also deserve.

Michael R. Peterson, MA LAMFT, Executive Director, MN CIT Officer’s Association, 612-220-6038, [email protected]


Consumer? How about ‘Participant’?

“Patient” has become a four-letter word! [“Don’t call me a ‘consumer’!” April 10, 2008] It is not a four-letter word just for persons with depression. I proudly disdain the word ever since I felt the disrespect and superiority that the medical profession and medical model has had for me. It is not that I have any affinity for the word “consumer” but it does sound and feel better then the word “patient”! I think we must identify ourselves as we choose.

I crushed my spinal cord and am paralyzed from the chest and arms down as a result of a car accident many years ago. As a result of that event I necessarily became dependent on the medical profession for permission to exist. A “patient” is what I was! Not because that is what I defined myself as, but because it is what I allowed others to define me as. With the word “patient” comes the concept of the term “be patient.” Over time and discussion with other cohorts, I became aware of another perspective that allowed me to identify myself differently. This new awareness helped identify “patient” as a four letter word for me and for many other people with various disabilities and illnesses because the word implies inaction, which is NOT what many persons with disabilities want to be. INACTIVE!

The word “patient” becomes a problem because “I” as a person want to “participate” in any health or medical decisions about me. Call me a “participant!”

Rick Cardenas, St. Paul

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