By Todd Wineburner
Some opponents of gun control legislation have argued that mental health issues need more attention than gun regulations. For Pontiac Police Chief Jim Woolford, concerns over mental health are nothing new, as his department often has the responsibility of making first contact with a disturbed person. Woolford says he’s talked to his colleagues from around the country, and they all agree that it’s a sensitive issue. The problem is that when police have to deal with the mentally ill, the possibility of arrest goes up and that can lead to rapidly escalating situations. Woolford says he’s committed to making sure his officers are trained for all situations, including dealing with dementia patients, for example. Police are often called to respond to cases dealing with dementia patients, but they clearly aren’t criminal situations. That puts officers in a position where high levels of sensitivity are required to avoid traumatizing the individual. Woolford says training for these kinds of situations is a high priority for 2013.