When the Police Arrested My Veteran….Our Story

Four years ago back in March, my husband, a 6’5 black man, who is a United States Veteran living with PTSD, was arrested. At the time, Michael had only been out of the military for 4 months, after 15 and a half years of service and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He was home, but struggling in a nightmarish hell of his own mind. The military quickly pushed him out with a 90 day supply of meds and told him good luck. He was registered with the VA, but waiting to be seen; it took almost year for a psych doc to see him. We did everything we could to get him help. Two weeks before the morning of his arrest, he had gotten out of a 4 day inpatient stay.

On the morning of his arrest, Michael seemed to be in a good mood. He went out with a friend, and I took our daughter to the store to pick up a few things. On the way back home, I saw Michael’s car at a fast food restaurant with four police cars surrounding it, lights on.  My heart sunk, and I had a knot in the pit of my stomach. I made a u-turn, but by the time I came on the scene my husband was in handcuffs in the police car. I asked one of the officers what was going on. I explained that I was his wife, and showed him my ID. I also explained that my husband had just gotten out of the military. We believed he had PTSD, and we were trying to get him help.

The officer explained my husband had become irate, and refused to leave after he felt the service was too slow. They let me know what my husband was being charged with and let me know where I could post bail.  The officers assured me that a few of them were familiar with PTSD. A couple of officers were vets themselves, or had vets in their family. The officer was polite, professional, and talked to me, which he did not have to do.

Looking back on that day, those officers made a major difference in the direction we were heading in my husband’s treatment. The arresting officer even came to court to speak up for my husband. Something in Michael snapped that day.  For months, he had faced crippling anxiety, anger outbursts (anger, yelling, cussing), nightmares, very little to no sleep, as he struggled to cope with being out of the military. While on active duty, the military health system placed him on several medications with little oversight from a doctor. When he was out, he was taking the same medications with no oversight from a doctor.  Despite his outburst that day, those police officers respected Michael and his life. Had he been in another jurisdiction, I can’t say the outcome would have been the same. In talking with my husband later, he said that the police never drew their weapon on him, and that all the officers worked together to take him down.

To say my husband was out of control would probably be an accurate statement.  Seeing my husband in his fits of rage, I can only imagine what the officers were thinking, especially since  he is 6’5 and 220 lbs.  By the grace of God, they looked beyond his rage and saw a human being, albeit a broken one. He is alive today because of those police officers, and was given the chance to get the help he so desperately needed. When I see the news of police shootings of unarmed men, I wish I could thank those officers for their professionalism in a volatile situation.  The outcome could have been deadly, but thankfully, these police officers worked together to take my husband down and kept everyone safe.

Four years later, after a very hard, very long road, and proper medical care, my husband is not where he was the morning he got arrested. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to the officers who responded to my husband’s mental health crisis. The officers saw beyond my husband’s actions, and aided a person in crisis. To me, these men are angels, having turned the tide in my husband’s recovery.  I will be forever grateful to them, and I hope they know how much they mean to us.

Positive stories of police, as well as positive stories of minorities need to be acknowledged and shared, so that negatives are not all we see of certain group. Seeing only the negative adds to fear and feeds stereotypes. These are stories of individual people. They aren’t responsible for anyone’s actions but their own, and must be judged by this fact, both officer, and minorities.

My heart hurts for where we are in America.  My heart hurts for the families of those lives lost in recent weeks. As a white woman, married to a black man, with biracial children, I feel an ever-growing pain and angst. I can’t fully comprehend what is occurring in America right now. We should not be this far gone in 2016, this divided, and hurting.

We absolutely must have a conversation to discuss police brutality in America. We must acknowledge that bad and corrupt cops exist, but we also need to emphasize that most police officers are good, and truly care about their job. These officers value life, and the people they serve. They take their job seriously and do it to the best of their ability. The good officers do try to make a difference, and go unnoticed most days. They put their lives on the line daily for the people in their community. They too, are hurting. Many know the system has to change, but know some leaders are unwilling to change it. Just like we can’t condemn a group of people based on the color of their skin, or for the actions of a few, we can’t condemn a whole profession for the actions of a few.

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