Here’s the story. There’s this homeless man in Hollywood, RM, that the BID has been after forever. For instance, between January 2007 and December 2015 they had arrested him more than 40 times.2 They also pushed for him to be involuntarily treated for mental illness for years. As of August 2015 they had succeeded in getting him conserved3 but in October 2014 they were still trying.
So imagine Mike Coogle’s disappointment when he was told by DMH employees that RM did not meet the criteria for a 5150 hold. That’s the gold standard of BID Patrol blitzwaffenpsychiatrie since it takes the homeless person not only off the street but probably all the way to County USC, from whence it’s not so easy to get back to Hollywood if you’re homeless. But he was undaunted, our Mike. His suggestion? “We suggested assisting with accumulating various tickets which will eventually evolve into arrest warrants…”
And how was this helpful suggestion received? Perhaps amazingly, “…LA DMH did not think that would help.” You think not? I wonder if DMH was too polite to explain to Mike that not only would it not help, but it was likely illegal on about three distinct theories4 and not only that but for them to go along with a surreally unprofessional course of conduct such as Mike is here suggesting would likely constitute violations of the Code of Ethics which they, as licensed clinical social workers, are legally bound to follow.
To be clear, I’m not arguing against the use of involuntary psychiatric holds. They are clearly necessary in some cases. But in a free society, where a homeless man, at least ideally, has no more and no fewer rights than a zillionaire, the only possible reasons for involuntary medical treatment are because the person being treated is incapable of taking care of himself or because he’s a danger to other people. There are no other reasons. And there are at least three reasons why the BID Patrol shouldn’t have a voice in these decisions.
First of all, their whole purpose is to further the interests of their zillionaire masters at the HPOA. The zillionaires want homeless people out of Hollywood, and the BID Patrol will use psychiatric laws to promote that goal. But this project has no room for the best interests of the homeless people.
Second, they are heavily armed and their main tool is the right of citizens’ arrest. They naturally therefore see this as the solution to every problem, even when it’s not. It is for a very good reason that citizens’ arrest is only an option in response to crime, not to psychiatric episodes. Can you imagine a world in which untrained private people could just jump on unsuspecting people and handcuff them because they thought amateurishly and uninformedly that they were “crazy?”
This brings us to the final reason why the BID Patrol, and the whole HPOA for that matter, ought to forgo the practice of their unprofessional, uninformed brand of pseudo social work. They don’t have the first clue what they’re doing. Anyone who thinks they’re going to help someone who’s mentally ill by arresting him every few months for 8 years straight or that arrest warrants are somehow interchangeable with 5150 holds is really, truly, deeply confused5 and really needs to lay off the putative good deeds for a while.
And finally I just want to note that the most mystifying part of this whole thing is the fact that the licensed clinical social workers at DMH talk to the BID Patrol and BID-mistress Kerry Morrison as if they’re all somehow colleagues. The social workers have to know that these security guards are just making shit up for evil purposes. And yet they don’t act as if they know. Maybe they don’t. I suppose we’ll find out eventually. Anyway, that’s today’s episode. Stay tuned!
Image of Michael Coogle is a public record.
- BID Patrol badge #129, CA security guard license #1286285, CA firearms permit #248379.
- Check this tally of arrests through 2013 along with the 2014 and 2015 A/I arrest reports.
- Steve Seyler famously supported his conservatorship to improve the “quality of life” of the freaking BID Patrol.
- Details on this forthcoming at some point, stay tuned!
- Although perhaps understandably so: John Tronson, the current head of the BID Security Committee, is famous for his theory that arresting homeless people is good for them.