Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 13, 2011

Insane in the membrane

Filed under: Alameda — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

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.

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48 Comments

  1. These days with record unemployment, and so many people losing their homes, 5150s are naturally on the uptick. They can occur when people get stinking drunk or over medicate, or when a teen threatens suicide as an attention getter– a form of temporary insanity maybe, but calling it “insanity” in the press is a bit much. Some of the people are truly insane though. My friend is working on a mental health certification and says we will be seeing a lot more of this since so many mental health programs have been cut. She works with street people who are clinically insane in Oakland but she sometimes sees some of her clients on the streets over here. I agree with Lauren, though. Calling it an arrest for “insanity” makes it sound like the police are authorized to make a diagnosis rather than just assess whether or not action should be taken to protect the person and others.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 13, 2011 @ 7:26 am

  2. “The two ladies at the table agreed and took it for action so I expect an answer shortly.”

    Where were you Lauren, under the table??

    Your email to the Chief and the quick posting of the results should show the nay-sayers (but won’t) who are always criticizing blogs, that this much maligned medium, can be and is more responsive and more informative than all others combined…provided the blog has correct leadership, thanks Lauren.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 13, 2011 @ 8:28 am

  3. “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.”

    That’s a pretty sanguine opinion. Essentially, under 5150 anybody deemed ‘odd’ by a state designated person can be incarcerated for three days.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 13, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  4. The present corollary:

    In the Soviet Union: The official explanation was that no sane person would declaim against Soviet government and Communism.

    In California: The unofficial explanation is that no sane person would be anything but a Democrat.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 13, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  5. 4. Not sure everybody in the OC would agree with that.

    As to the 5150, the hold is up to the medical people. The ER doc decides whether or not to forward the person to a psych facility and the psych facility can release them at any time but MAY hold them up to 72 hours. When my friend’s daughter took an overdose, the doctors conferred with the parents and she went home as soon as she was out of medical danger. The police just make the call as to whether or not the process gets started. The actual hold is up to the docs.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 13, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  6. “…the hold is up to the medical people.”

    5150. 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.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 13, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  7. Maybe Mr. McNiff could comment. I’m just telling you how people who’ve been through it told me it works. Often, they don’t have beds in the psych facility available so the patient is brought to Alameda Hospital. If they have Kaiser, they get transferred there and stablized in the case of an intentional OD for example. If Kaiser has no bed they wait in the ER until they can be admitted to Kaiser HosOakland School for the Artspital. They stay there until a bed opens up in the psych facility. When they get to the psych facility is when I believe the 72 hours officially begins so depending on availability of beds, the whole process can take a day or two longer. The 5150 is initiated by the police but I’m fairly sure at least one doctor and one psychiatrist have to sign off for it to continue.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 13, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

  8. I really have to figure out why my iPhone keeps inserting “Oakland school for the Arts” in my posts. Sorry!

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 13, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

  9. Tell you what, Jack. Try freaking out on Park Street and report back.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 13, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

  10. I’ll pass on the freak out I’m more interested in what the law states. Anecdotal stories about 5150 are probably all over the map.

    A couple tidbits:

    5153. Whenever possible, officers charged with apprehension of
    persons pursuant to this article shall dress in plain clothes and
    travel in unmarked vehicles. …..(chërnyj voron, no doubt)

    5157. (a) Each person, at the time he or she is first taken into
    custody under provisions of Section 5150, shall be provided, by the
    person who takes such other person into custody, the following
    information orally. The information shall be in substantially the
    following form:

    My name is
    ________________________________________________.
    I am a
    ________________________________________________.
    (peace
    officer, mental health professional)
    with
    ________________________________________________.
    (name of agency)
    You are not under criminal arrest, but I am
    taking you for examination by mental health
    professionals at ________________________________
    ________________________________________________.
    (name of facility)
    You will be told your rights by the mental
    health staff.
    If taken into custody at his or her residence,
    the person shall also
    be told the following information in
    substantially the following
    form:
    You may bring a few personal items with you
    which I will have
    to approve. You can make a phone call and/or
    leave a note to tell
    your friends and/or family where you have been
    taken.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 13, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

  11. Lauren, Thanks for clearing up what appeared perplexing reports in The Sun. I’ve notice the Friday paper doesn’t carry any such notations in its Police Blotter….

    Comment by Robby — September 13, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

  12. 11 How did you get Friday’s paper on Teusday?

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 14, 2011 @ 8:28 am

  13. Make that Thursday’s paper on Tuesday?

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 14, 2011 @ 8:28 am

  14. Alameda Sun: Just call it what the cops call it: Green Sheeted. Most agencies have a special “5150” Emergency Psychiatric Hold form that is on NCR format. The officer completes the form and tears off the last sheet for his/her records and it’s normally green. Trust me, police officers use this detention method in the interest of the public.

    Comment by Basel — September 14, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  15. Why don’t they call it what it is, 5150 Psych Hold.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 14, 2011 @ 9:52 am

  16. Actually, weeks ago when Jack 1st mentioned it, I wrote “insanity is not a crime, it’s a diagnosis” And I noted that, in the 7/17/2011 SUN, there are NO insanity arrests. So Police Blotter insanity reporting is a VERY recent phenomenon. I thought maybe it began w/the new APD administration. Not a good idea, b/c according to the Guide to Calif Public Records, information in the “police blotter”, such as names of persons involved, must be disclosed upon request. Only the IDs of the law enforcement personnel involved are protected. The citizens arrested are not. I prefer the term “taken into protective custody” As someone who spent 6 weeks working as a doc in a locked Kaiser psych ward in OC[yes, Kaiser has them. the Largest hospitals in Calif are Mental Hospitals]as part of my training, I can tell you people w/purely medical conditions who don’t belong there get locked up all the time. And they don’t get automatically released after 72 hours, unless they have friends or family to advocate for them.They have to wait till the County Hearing Officer comes by, which may only be once a week. Whenever no medical docs are involved, this 5150 power is subject to bungling by police. The case of Raymond Zack is a good example of a 5150 gone terribly wrong. After declaring him 5150’d, APD was supposed to protect Mr. Zack from himSELF. Obviously, he needed such help, APD knew it, & they did nothing of the kind!

    Comment by vigi — September 14, 2011 @ 10:01 am

  17. Hi Jack, we are in the process of fixing this and it should be done shortly. The issue arose when the Department switched over to an automated report writing system. This was the default title and something we simply took for granted. We simply did not even consider that this could create any confusion or concern within the community. For that I apologize. As always, you or anyone can contact either myself or my staff with questions such as this. I assure you we try to be as open as possible and I always appreciate the open communication. Thanks, Mike Noonan

    Comment by Mike Noonan, C.O.P. — September 14, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

  18. Thanks Chief Noonan, seemed odd to me that what was initially reported in the Sun wasn’t picked up in the Journal. I chalked it up to some creative writer in the Sun since they do have their fun with fire reports, why not include police. When insanity reappeared weekly, I figured it must be something else.

    Thing is, with the recent hit this city took at the national media level, all we didn’t need was a follow up piling-on story gleaned from a series of mischaracterized incident reports. It’s good that Lauren got in touch with you and much better that you took the time to respond to her and to the rest of us here. Thanks, glad we have you where you are!

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 14, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

  19. Regarding Jack’s claim that after he “approached the ACT table” regarding the reports of insanity, “the two ladies at the table agreed and took it for action”, this of course is not true. I’ve spoken to one of those two ladies, and obviously, they did not take his questions seriously.

    I was also told something interesting: Jack refused to identify himself. He refused to give his name. So however brave he may be on this site, apparently he’s not that brave when it comes to dealing w/ a couple of folks at the Webster Street Jam.

    Comment by dlm — September 14, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

  20. 19
    You say it’s not true that I asked the questions, then you say they thought I was joking. Well, which is it? I certainly did ask them the questions and I relayed my questions here acurately. There certainly was no indication they were not taking me seriously or that their responses were not serious.

    “not that brave,” As far as identifying myself to the two ACT reps, I told them to read Lauren’s blog (which they despairingly referred to, shaking their collective heads) and further I told them since I disagree with 90% of what’s written in the comments on the blog and that I comment often, they could figure out who I was. So I guess you’re right, I wasn’t brave enough to identify myself.

    Isn’t it a little bit disingenuous to rag on me not identifying myself in the same comment you remain anonymous.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 15, 2011 @ 9:03 am

  21. Now if only Chief Noonan OR his asisstant, FloLo, was avail mid-AM on a weekday to receive a phone call to make an appt. I think it would be helpful if both of you weren’t away from your desks for hours @ the same time.
    I heard that a raving lunatic who says he gets his medical & legal advice from Lauren Do instead of legitimate sources approached the ACT table & yelled @ the ladies to “do something about all the Insanity in Alameda!!!” That must have been usted, Jack? I assure you, ACT is trying. Met w/the CM ayer, matter of fact. Jack, you might start by visiting other, more truthful. websites, like ActionAlameda, once in a while. Denise S. did.

    Comment by alameda vigilante — September 15, 2011 @ 9:04 am

  22. Why is the American Conservatory Theater interested in Alameda politics? ;) Seriously, Jack. I’d avoid these folks. They seem like a sour, humorless bunch.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 15, 2011 @ 9:27 am

  23. 21
    vigi, their sign at the Jam was like this,

    ACT
    ion alameda.

    I called it ACT because that’s what the big ‘grab’ letters said.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 15, 2011 @ 10:15 am

  24. Hi Vigi, If I am wrong, I will always be the first to admit that. Having said that, you should know that I have tried to return your calls three times to no avail. Feel free to give me a call again. Have a great day. Mike Noonan

    Comment by Mike Noonan, Chief of Police — September 15, 2011 @ 10:18 am

  25. “…raving lunatic who says he gets his medical & legal advice from Lauren Do instead of legitimate sources…;usted , Jack”

    That would be me…this is where I get it…does this qualify me for a 5150?

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 15, 2011 @ 10:22 am

  26. #20: Okay, Jack, I’ll “reframe” this for your benefit — as I said above, you asked the ladies at the ACT table a question about the reports of insanity — and they of course, assumed that you were joking, as anybody would, quite obviously. They did not take you literally, and I’m not sure why you’d make that claim unless you’re trying to ridicule them, for what reason I don’t know.

    That would be kind of mean-minded and pointless, but I’m sure it’s possible.

    “ACT” stands for “Alameda Citizens Task Force” — it’s not affiliated with Action Alameda.

    #22: You’re right, I don’t get all these clever little witticisms and in-jokes, and in fact it doesn’t even seem all that clever or witty to me. I think “juvenile” would be closer to it.

    Comment by dlm — September 15, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  27. Frankly, I didn’t pay much attention to the name of their organization, I liked their literature so I stopped and chatted with them. The two ladies wanted to talk about the Golf Course land swap which I wasn’t interested in so I asked if they were aware of the insanity arrests reported in the Sun. They said they were aware of the reports and that someone they knew had contacted the APD, so I don’t understand your ‘joking’ characterization when you write this, “— and they of course, assumed that you were joking,…”.

    I may have not seemed serious to them but their response was serious (the subject could be funny and I have written about it mirthfully but sometimes that’s the best way to gain attention) The bottom line is the word ‘insanity’ smeared each week in the local newspaper serves ill to the already tarnished city’s reputation. I appreciate what their doing and it does the ACT no good to disparage one of their natural supporters.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 15, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

  28. I don’t think ACT is trying to disparage you. All they’re saying (the two ladies involved) is that they did not seriously offer to look into the “insanity” reports. One of these ladies is a retired elementary school teacher — she’s a very kindly person who’s very good at humoring people, so that may explain what you heard.

    For myself, I assumed it was some kind of system glitch, and apparently it was — which is why I wouldn’t take it seriously.

    Comment by dlm — September 15, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

  29. Sorry, Mike, I’ll try harder to get in touch w/U. Wasn’t that you reading Romans from the SPN pulpit @Mass on 9/11? Nice job! Jack, I forgot to put a smiley face after lunatic-hope you don’t mind the joke!
    More reason to us an alias: http://www.wibw.com/home/headlines/Bodies_hanging_from_bridge_in_Mexico_are_warning_to_social_media_users_129832043.html

    Comment by alameda vigilante — September 15, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

  30. 29 – Shouldn’t there be consequences for posting false, malicious innuendos and accusations online? Where’s the accountability? I agree that drug cartel/mobster-actions like the ones in Mexico are going too far.

    Comment by Dennis V. — September 15, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

  31. — which is why I wouldn’t take it seriously.

    Maybe you should dumb down.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 15, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

  32. 26. Thanks for proving my point.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 15, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  33. #31 / #32: If this is a game, then I have to say that it’s very, very weird. Either way, you folks are too old to be playing chummy little inside-joke routines like this. I’m disappointed in both of you.

    Comment by dlm — September 15, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

  34. 33
    Are you a teacher? You sound awfully like one of my Nuns when my buddy and I snuck into class early and set the wall clock ahead ten minutes.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 15, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

  35. 33. I think you are reading a little too much into this. You choose to hide your identity, anyway so taking our remarks personally is kind of weird in itself. Rest assured, Jack and I will survive your disappointment just fine. There are no games or inside jokes, just a rather large log wedged firmly in your retina. Remove it and all will become clear.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 15, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

  36. Boy, you guys are assholes all the way.

    Comment by dlm — September 15, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

  37. Sorry, let me rephrase that: Creepy and weird would be closer to it. Hostility isn’t clever.

    Comment by dlm — September 15, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

  38. 36 Forget the nun, now you sound like my wife.
    37 Make up your mind. When you get all the way ‘to it’, let me know.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 15, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

  39. 36 BTW, please don’t include Denise in the ‘asshole’ category, I won that designation hands down after DG went to happy hunting grounds…bless his soul. Denise doesn’t come close.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 15, 2011 @ 10:26 pm

  40. 37. If you read back over these posts, you’ll find that the hostile tone was started by you with your attack on Jack and has escalated primarily due to your continued attempts to characterize his encounter with the ladies at the Jam as malicious, which he has made clear was nothing of the kind. You’ve now resorted to name calling. If hostility isn’t clever, what does that make you?

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 16, 2011 @ 12:13 am

  41. 30: “for posting false, malicious innuendos” Well, that’s exactly why I correct Lauren’s whenever I can! BTW, as long as you don’t say what the “V” stands for, you’re still anonymous, too! [Are U a Valerio? I went to school w/Monica.]
    Now that i’ve seen your foto, Denise, does anyone call U “Red” Shelton? :-)

    Comment by vigi — September 16, 2011 @ 10:21 am

  42. 41. No. Maybe that’s because I’m not much of a Communist.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 16, 2011 @ 10:35 am

  43. Comment by Jack Richard — September 16, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  44. I started by commenting that Jack misrepresented a conversation, that’s all, which I have a right to do. If Jack’s misstatement is just a joke, then why is it repeated (in all seriousness) at the start of this post? I don’t see any disclaimers there.

    Otherwise, folks, I think you need to lighten up. it isn’t worth going into a frenzy of chain yanking over something like this, really and truly. I have no idea what you think is going on here, but it’s just not that big a deal.

    Yes, Jack, you have won the asshole award, tho it’s mostly in the pompous bloviating category, which is pretty harmless on the whole. With Denise — I thought she was a pretty reasonable person, until she set out to avenge herself over nothing.

    Comment by dlm — September 16, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

  45. Lighten up.

    Comment by dlm — September 16, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  46. 41 – In my case, “V” stands for Vintage Alameda. I try not to engage in cyber vigilanteism. Vigi may want to exercise her vigilance on Action Alameda’s or Raising Hell’s site. I stopped reading those sites because they are filled with false, malicious statements that are not grounded in facts. Althought, I was told that one of those sites documents Denise Lai tried picking a fight with an 11-year old girl for swimming at a pool. Maybe that’s also false.

    Lauren’s post are always grounded with checked facts and references, and that make her blog the most well-read in Alameda — which may be the reason that Chief Noonan or Officer McNiff, or other city officials are willing to participate in the comment section.

    Comment by Dennis V. — September 16, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  47. #46: “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. (etc)”.

    This is a fact? According to the author of this statement, it was an obvious joke from the get go. What shall we call this, an odd juxtaposition?

    I do give credit to Lauren for pulling together a great deal of information and getting something posted every day. That takes a lot of work. But this particular statement is not what I would call “grounded”

    Comment by dlm — September 16, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

  48. Bottom line, there’s no more insanity arrests in the Sun.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 16, 2011 @ 5:58 pm


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