I reported yesterday that BID Patrol Director Steve Seyler had assisted Kerry Morrison in securing evidence to be used in conservatorship hearings against a Hollywood homeless man. However, the bulk of Seyler’s amateurish mental health investigations are related to Laura’s Law, which allows for forcible outpatient treatment of people with serious mental illness and a history of noncompliance with doctors’ orders. Not that he bothered to read or understand the law first. In August 2015, in an email accompanying yet another report to the LAPD about a Laura’s Law candidate, Seyler stated that he was “a little fuzzy on the criteria for Laura’s Law so please advise…”
In fact, Seyler is much more than “a little fuzzy.” In that same email, with reference to the person, RM, who he’s reporting, Seyler states:
It would also be great for the quality of life of all concerned to get him into a program as he causes a huge amount of disruption and many calls for service. He is a burden on BID Security, the LAPD, Paramedics, hospitals etc.
I know the criteria for Laura’s Law are a little hard to follow, Steve, but here’s a clue: There isn’t a law in this country that authorizes forcible involuntary medical treatment because it would be convenient for a bunch of security guards. It’s just never going to happen that a law would allow that. If the guy is a burden on BID Security, maybe BID Security should consider giving up the pretense that they’re some kind of a social service agency and go back to doing the kind of security guard stuff that the law allows them to do, which, by the way, is emphatically not doing psychiatric evaluations.1
There isn’t a law in this country that authorizes forcible involuntary medical treatment for the convenience of the police either. We just don’t lock people up or force pills down their throats because it makes the lives of cops easier. The fact that this kind of nonsense even seems plausible to Seyler is yet another reason why he ought to stick to security-guarding and leave the social work to the licensed professionals.
And it’s not just in this one case that Seyler is confused. He’s confused throughout. Turn the page for a list of the actual criteria for using Laura’s Law to force psychiatric treatment on people and another example of how badly and how dangerously Steve Seyler and HPOA executive director Kerry Morrison misunderstand and seek to abuse this law.
According to the Mental Illness Policy Organization, the list of criteria for applying Laura’s Law state that:
A person may be placed in assisted outpatient treatment only if, after a hearing, a court finds that all of the following have been met. The person must:
1) Be eighteen years of age or older;
2) Be suffering from a mental illness;
3) Be unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision, based on a clinical determination;
4) Have a history of non-compliance with treatment that has either:
A. Been a significant factor in his or her being in a hospital, prison or jail at least
twice within the last thirty-six months or;
B. Resulted in one or more acts, attempts or threats of serious violent behavior
toward self or others within the last forty-eight months;
5) Have been offered an opportunity to voluntarily participate in a treatment plan by the local mental health department but continues to fail to engage in treatment;
6) Be substantially deteriorating;
7) Be, in view of his or her treatment history and current behavior, in need of assisted outpatient treatment in order to prevent a relapse or deterioration that would likely result in the person meeting California’s inpatient commitment standard, which is being:
A. A serious risk of harm to himself or herself or others; or
B. Gravely disabled (in immediate physical danger because unable to meet basic needs for food, clothing, or shelter);
8) Be likely to benefit from assisted outpatient treatment; and
9) Participation in the assisted outpatient program is the least restrictive placement necessary to ensure the person’s recovery and stability.
So you can see that invoking this law is a very serious matter. It’s not sufficient that someone disturbs the quality of life of the BID Patrol to qualify them for forcible treatment under Laura’s Law. They have to legitimately be dangerous to themselves or to others, and there are exceedingly specific criteria for making such a finding.
And there would have to be, wouldn’t there? Any law allowing force to be used against people, whether to lock them up or, as in this case, to order them to submit to psychiatric treatment as a likely prerequisite to locking them up (because refusing court-ordered treatment is evidence in favor of involuntary commitment) is going to be abused by business improvement districts and the police as a way to improve their “quality of life” by eliminating homeless people from their jurisdictions.
This is why civil libertarians and other sane people insist on multiple layers of safeguards before the violence of the state is directed at the putatively mentally ill. Because as soon as laws allowing forcible treatment are developed and implemented, people like Steve Seyler, Kerry Morrison, and their ideological compatriots will be looking for ways to improve their own so-called quality of life2 at the expense of the freedom and the self-determination of whichever helpless undesirable people they can victimize with those laws. Despite Kerry Morrison’s idiotic and self-serving characterization of “civil libertarians” as people “who argue that people have a ‘constitutional right’ to lie in their feces on our sidewalks,” in fact she and her BID Patrol buddies exemplify at least one of the dangers that civil libertarians argue (correctly) that people have a constitutional right to be safe from.
Now consider an example of just how far Morrison, Seyler, and friends are prepared to go in warping the purpose of Laura’s Law to serve their goal of removing all homeless people from Hollywood. In September 2015, Seyler sent Morrison an email with an attached report and a subject line reading “AOT-Laura’s Law case.” He asked her:
Kerry do you think this would be a good person for Dawn to contact?
Now, look over the above criteria and see how many you can spot in the following report (Hint: It’s approximately zero). Also keep in mind Morrison’s response to Seyler. It was not something along the lines of “Steve Seyler, you ignorant fool. Go read the freaking criteria for Laura’s Law and stop wasting my time with your pernicious nonsense.” It was, in fact, to forward it along, presumably for processing.
Our Officers Sewell and Watkins met K—— on 8-25-15 in the alley behind 6614 Hollywood Blvd. He is homeless. He was very dirty and had a cart to hold his belongings. He looked very street worn, but upon speaking to him the officers learned that he was articulate and had an interesting history.
K——- said that he was born in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime headed by Dictator Pol Pot. Research reveals that they ruled from about 1975 to 1979. It is estimated that 1.3 to 3 million people were murdered by the regime. This from a population of about 8 million.
K——- said that he was a young child during this period. He was sponsored by an American couple of Korean and Cambodian heritage and escaped the country. He later came to the belief that they took him in merely for the government check that was provided. He ended up in San Jose, Ca. He did well in school and received a partial scholarship to USC. With the help of a student loan he started college.
He did well the first year, but then joined the partying scene. He dropped out. He said he had a talent for dance and choreography and was able to earn a living. His excessive use of alcohol and marijuana caused him to lose work. He started working in film distribution, but lost interest as his drug use increased. He became homeless about nine months ago and now sleeps on the streets of Hollywood. A few months ago he was introduced to meth and is now addicted. He has lost interest in life including his personal hygiene.
K——- is intelligent, but lacks any motiviation. He would like to turn his life around, but is very depressed. We hope to introduce him to outreach counselors.
What, if anything, is Seyler thinking by reporting this man as a candidate for forcible psychiatric treatment? What is Morrison thinking by going along with this crazy scheme? There isn’t even any evidence here that the man is mentally ill, let alone that he meets even a single one of the criteria for Laura’s Law.3 And the very same people that are advocating for this guy to be held down while pills are forced down his throat, which is the point of Laura’s Law, are the ones mockingly mischaracterizing the views of people who oppose them as a belief in a constitutional right to lay in shit? This is a perfect, if chilling, example of the danger posed to safety and well-being of the people of Los Angeles by Morrison, Seyler, their BID buddies, and their enablers in the City government. Are you too dirty? Do you drink too much? Are you addicted to meth? Does the BID Patrol find you irritating? Well, they’re looking to move you out and lock you up.
Image of Steve Seyler is ©2014 MichaelKohlhaas.org.
- It seems that Seyler is not just fuzzy on Laura’s Law, but also on the Private Security Services Act. But that’s a subject for another day.
- See how the original semantics of the already-dangerous “Broken Windows Theory” have shifted from “quality of life” meaning some kind of imaginary right not to have to look at homeless people on the street to meaning some kind of right to be able to set up only marginally legal private security forces funded by tax money and then empower them to arrest and relocate everyone of whom their masters disapprove. Sickening.
- Except for being over the age of 18, of course.