Vulnerable Persons Registry and Wristbands

Opinions Wanted!

April 8, 2015: Toronto Police is starting their own “Vulnerable Persons Registry”. It is a voluntary list of individuals “who may have some limitations in their ability to communicate in a crisis which could compromise their own or officer safety.” The individual or their caregiver can add their name to the list including helpful information such as their likes, dislikes, triggering words, habits etc. “The registry’s implementation will mark a step forward for Toronto police in terms of interactions with vulnerable or emotionally disturbed people.” The Vulnerable Persons Registry aims to help police focus on de-escalation and provide them with information so they are not going into a situation with a lot of unknown variables. An example is given about an incident in Ottawa where their Vulnerable Persons Registry was able to provide information that avoid injury or potentially death:

Citing a case from Ottawa, where police have implemented a similar registry, Debbaubt said officers responding to a high-risk call for a young man wielding a knife used one tidbit of information to avoid a violent outcome: they knew he liked discussing hockey.“When the door was opened, he had the knife, and the police said, ‘We want to talk about hockey,’ and he put the knife down,” said Debbaudt, who helped Toronto Police develop the registry.“A standard approach would have been yelling: ‘Police.’ And it would have been totally different.” -Toronto Star, April 8, 2015

Very briefly was in mentioned that, in the mental health community, this Registry could be an issue when it comes to privacy; who has access to the information, will it be erased when the person no longer wants to be on the registry etc.

Her idea…

April 14, 2015: Tory Candidate in Cambridge, Chamali Fernando, suggested during one of her campaign speeches that people with mental health issues wear wristbands so they can be easily identified. She claims, ” the move could help police, medical and legal professionals understand otherwise apparently obstructive behaviour of someone unable to explain themselves,” and “She went on to suggest that a different coloured wristband for each mental health condition could improve the system.” Many immediately opposed to Fernando’s idea calling it “shocking” and “outrageous”. Fernando claims that her comments were distorted, but that has not stopped a petition from being created demanding that she step down from the election. One blogger pointed out that instead of wearing wristbands maybe a pink triangle or a yellow star would be good, alluding to what LGBT and Jewish individuals were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.

“There is already far too much discrimination against mental health throughout our society, and a wristband saying ‘I am depressed’ is not going to help. We need to massively improve mental health support, which has been not good enough for many decades. – Julian Huppert of the Liberal Democrats, 2015

 

My Opinions

Vulnerable Persons Registry

Pros:

  • Provides helpful information to police to potentially limit the amount of injury or death towards those with mental health issues.
  • Could quicken the time it takes to find someone who is missing.
  • Could lead to a better understanding of mental health issues but allowing police to understand that crisis situations can be de-escalated when they have the right knowledge.
  • It is voluntary.
  • List includes children as well as adults with other disabilities (autism, developmental disabilities etc.), any vulnerable person.

Cons:

  • Will caregivers, officers etc use the list appropriately?
  • Define voluntary. Some caregivers may not act in accordance with the individuals wishes.
  • Who will have access to this information?
  • Will this information be erased when a person withdraws from the list?
  • Will it be easy to withdraw from the list?

Overall impressions: I am suspicious and would never want to be on this list. I am pleased to see that there are positive examples of when information provided on these lists has de-escalated a situation resulting in the safety of both the individual and officers.

Mental Illness ID Wristbands

Pros:

  • Potentially provides people with mental health issues stylish wristbands.
  • Demonstrates the still pervasive discrimination towards individuals with mental health issues.
  • Quickly shows who people should not be voting for.

Cons:

  • Providing a visible marker puts people with mental health issues at risk for discrimination which could include physical violence.
  • Disregards people’s right to privacy.

    The ONLY wristbands we should be wearing!

  • The wristband could be ugly. What if I don’t like the colour of the wristband assigned to my disorder?
  • No regard for what being blatantly labelled with a mental health issue could do to the individual.
  • Another harmful idea wrapped in “helping” language.
  • Demonstrates lack of knowledge around mental health and human rights

Overall impressions: Nothing good about this idea. It’s stupid, humiliating, offensive and I don’t even think I would wear a wristband stating my disorder even if it was from Tiffany’s and covered in diamonds.

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9 thoughts on “Vulnerable Persons Registry and Wristbands

  1. How about training police to act like decent human beings in all their interactions? Using the example from Ottowa, I imagine *anyone* would respond much better to an opportunity to talk about a favorite topic – or just have a conversation with someone who seems interested in and concerned about them – than someone yelling “Police!”

    Same basic idea with the wristbands: rather than marking a certain group as “other,” why not train professionals to “understand otherwise apparently obstructive behavior.” Is it really so difficult to spend a few minutes getting to know a fellow human being?

  2. Not sure one can put it well in a comment but here goes…
    Overall I have no issue with either concept. Yes it would be better if there was 100% mental health awareness and everyone was on board….but guess what? It’s not going to happen! As for the comparison to the Nazi v Jew comparison, I think that’s almost insulting and not helpful to good dialogue with people who are probably trying their best to deal with a potentially dangerous situation, and we know when those situations arise (i.e. The example quoted) who ends up the loser.
    Rather than attacking a very “brave” (and I say brave because these people know the amount of flack they are going to receive for raising the idea) move, why not stay positive and find a way to make it work. Let’s be honest many are happy to pull a tee shirt on that promotes mental health awareness and parade around the streets in it, and rightly so, but then to say they wouldn’t wear a band that could potentially hold life saving information on it, doesn’t make a lot of sense. To me, strictly personal opinion, that kind of person is only in it for self promotion. This system potentially could be linked to something like the international Medic Alert bracelet, and maybe doesn’t need to be color coded but just something that law enforcement and medical personnel easily identify.
    Just a side issue, what is privacy? And when do we allow privacy to become a big stick? Most governments already have ways to collect and collate personal info – taxation, social services, immigration, medical, employers, etc. These kinds of ideas potentially can be amazingly good and have much benefit.
    Please don’t take offense at anything I have said, I often don’t put things very well, as I only mean to show another side.

    • I see your points! We will don the shirts, wear awareness bracelets and I know many who have Medic Alert bracelets. At the camp I used to work at we identified children who had epi-pens with neon wrist bands (some of us did speak out against it but the safety of the children was important). The main concern might be that wearing the wristbands shouldn’t be mandatory. I think it is difficult to come up with a solution that can appropriately support a person, the community and professionals because the needs are different in some respects.

      No offense taken to anything! 😛

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