There has been some discussion in the comments section about the Police Blotter and the recent uptick in the number of arrests for “insanity” as described in the Alameda Sun. Over the weekend Jack R. approached the ACT table and brought this up to the people manning the table:
…they should attempt to get to the bottom of this insanity thing. Strangely enough they agreed. Said they had already done some preliminary research, ie. talked to the Sun editor – who said the police would not expand on the subject and basically shut him off.
Also they tried to find something out via the various contacts they have around town…nothing except rumor is that it’s a ‘catch all’ charge police use to pick up anybody they want. I told them, I was not buying that answer and they should get to the bottom of it. The two ladies at the table agreed and took it for action so I expect an answer shortly.
So, I emailed Chief Mike Noonan, who seemed like a responsive kind a guy, early yesterday and this was his answer not more than an hour later:
Insanity may not be the best descriptor for this section. It is not a criminal arrest but an involuntary hold for a person who may be deemed Dangerous and/or Gravely Disabled. One example of “Gravely Disabled” would be an elderly person who is living alone in squalor, unable care for themselves or take medications (or refuse to take medications). This hold is designed to help them. In most cases it is an involuntary psychiatric hold on a person who has been found to be a danger to oneself. It does not mean that the person is insane, but they have said or done something that would indicate they might try to hurt themselves. It is a hold that has a maximum hold in a mental health facility for no more than 72 hours.
He also copied the code section that this falls under:
5150 Welfare and Institutions Code:
“When any person, as a result of mental disorder, is a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or gravely disabled, a peace officer, member of the attending staff, as defined by regulation, of an evaluation facility designated by the county, designated members of a mobile crisis team provided by Section 5651.7, or other professional person designated by the county may, upon probable cause, take, or cause to be taken, the person into custody and place him or her in a facility designated by the county and approved by the State Department of Mental Health as a facility for 72-hour treatment and evaluation.”
So, nothing nefarious here. Not the rumored “catch all” so that the police can go around arresting everyone they like. And all it took was a simple email to clarify.
It appears that in the desire to make this less technical and more accessible to Police Blotter consumers, someone decided to go with “insanity” as opposed to using “5150″, which I think most people have a general idea of what it means thanks to rappers. Probably would be best to move to 5150 for brevity’s sake or Dangerous/Gravely Disabled for clarity’s sake.