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I'm not completely sure whom this industrial film produced by Louisiana
was shown to. It discusses procedures for police dealing with crazy
people -- no ties,and light their cigarettes because they can't have
matches -- but it seems insufficiently technical in terms of police
procedure to be aimed at cops. It might have been aimed at the high
school audience and intended to show that just because Louisiana
governors like Earl Long were insane did not mean you had to run
screaming in terror when their minions showed up.
James Daly narrates from an efficiently written script, with reasonably short words in reasonably short sentences. The message is to treat the criminally insane decently since they are likely to be more afraid of you than you are of them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Very nicely done documentary on police and the mentally ill, which
seems just as relevant today as it was in 1960.
One notices immediately that things used to be done much less formally and with less red tape. Today there is a much bigger focus on protocol, privacy rules, and bureaucratic procedure.
This film focuses on the work of cops in Louisiana to make the case that the men in blue should more reliably have the help of medical doctors to cope with people attempting suicide, suffering psychotic breaks, and erupting into domestic violence.
"The vast majority of mentally disturbed people are not violent," we're told. "They are borderline cases who will continue to live outside institutions...Many are old people whose bodily ills are affecting their minds."
There is a startling scene in which a mentally retarded African-American teenager is being ridiculed by other kids in the neighborhood.
"The mentally retarded are seldom violent," says the voice-over, with the challenge for police being to "prevent them from being teased or misled into violent crime."
There is an extended segment of this short film in which police are shown responding to a knife-wielding man suffering from a psychotic break. Armed with a chair, like a lion tamer, a sergeant very patiently and sensitively talks the man down until he can be subdued.
"If apprehension can be delayed a while, disturbed people often become easier to manage."
And later, the sergeant tells the paranoid man, "We heard you had trouble with your neighbors. We want to come in and help you. There're four of us, Paul. We won't let 'em hurt you...Let's be friends. Let's talk."
Maybe the cops' patience and understanding was exaggerated, but I found it impressive.
I also found it to provide good modeling for all of us when we have to navigate a stressful, inflammatory situation.
BEING ONE FILM in a series of training aids designed primarily for
police departments throughout the country, the production manages to
both maintain a very natural look & feel. At the very same time, it
appears to have a highly professional and even theatrical quality about
WE BELIEVE THAT this was among several of this series that was employed by the Chicago Police Department's Training Division when we were undergoing training in the Autumn of 1967. We also well recall another in the series that dealt more exclusively with the police having to care for those who failed at suicide. Just as today's title employed real police personnel from the New Orleans P.D., this second film had "actors" culled from the CPD, Police Academy staff. At least three of them were still active during our screening.
AS FAR AS its status as movie art, it really does not rate too badly. While its intent is instruction as well as making a political case for improved emergency mental health facilities throughout the whole nation; it still manages to move along at a proper pace, tell a definite (if generalized) story, "entertains" and keep one's interest and attention.
WE MUST COMMEND the non-professional members of the cast, who remain anonymous even today, some 56 years later. Their efforts in being well directed by writer/producer/director George C. Stoney are well enhanced by the voice-over narration of actor James Daly; who served in the same capacity for the series run.
IN CLOSING WE must make just one personal, critical observation. Whereas this mental health series was intended to instruct the cops in the field, we think that it may have been a situation of a 2 way street. It would appear those in the fields of medicine, mental health and their corresponding advocacy organizations learned as much from the street experience of the first responders as do the cops from the films.
IT THEN IS a simple case of being a 2 Way Street!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a very basic, almost simplistic film demonstrating how law enforcement officials reacting to a domestic crisis should handle themselves if the problem person is mentally handicapped. Two scenarios are presented, one in which a disturbed man wields a knife and one where the distraught person appears unconscious but reacts physically when an authority attempts to intervene. A premise of the film short maintains that the afflicted person should be dealt with by mental health experts rather than the police, but for 1960, I don't know if that would have been as practical as it would be today. In a way, the picture resembles one of those 'Dragnet' episodes of the same era, a show I used to watch with my Dad with some regularity. The information related in the story was credible enough for it's place in time, but again, the situations presented didn't appear to be particularly dangerous, whereas in a more frightening situation, the instruction involved would have been ineffective unless handled by professionals.
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