A Concerned Parent
Editor’s note: Due to the sensitive nature of this letter, and its inclusion of a minor, the author requested their name be withheld.
A few months ago, I was contacted by the Los Alamos Police Department to inform me that they were responding to an anonymous tip and wanted to check on the welfare of my teenage daughter.
While I commend the police department for reaching out and asking about the situation prior to their arrival, I do have some concerns that are pertinent for both the community and the police department to understand.
Following our conversation, two armed police officers arrived at my house, one of which was wearing a bullet-proof vest. Although the officers remained calm and composed, the introduction of weaponry into a wellness check on a teenage girl was alarming.
During the phone conversation, I had informed the police that there were no weapons in the house, and that my daughter is easily agitated by aggressive behavior.
In retrospect, I would have preferred that the police work with us to contact either the school guidance counselor or her personal counselor, both of which could have better assessed the situation, and neither of which would have arrived with guns or bullet-proof vests.
In the future, I would like the police department to better integrate with families, caretakers, and local professionals to ensure that members of our community who suffer from disabilities and/or mental illness are not placed into uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations.
I do not know how my daughter would have responded if the police had arrived unannounced, or if her parents had not been present. However, I can be much more certain as to how my daughter would have responded if a plain clothes mental health professional, particularly one she is familiar with, had arrived instead of the police.