People who do not have to deal with the violently mentally ill don’t understand why they sometimes have to be harmed – by the police who are trying to restrain them, or by intended victims saving themselves from what used to be called colloquially “madmen” (and “madwomen”). The “Defund the Police” trope has gone hand in hand with a movement to send unarmed “social workers” to deal with 9-1-1 calls regarding mental patients or what law enforcement calls EDPs: Emotionally Disturbed Persons. 

How is that working? They can tell you in Baltimore, where the second such unarmed helper of the sick, called a Violence Interruptor there, has been murdered just this year.

Our sympathy goes to the family of the well-meaning Violence Interruptor Kenyall “Benny” Wilson. A good person has been lost for no good reason. 

The plan was supposed to be something like, “If the unarmed volunteers can’t control the person in question, then they’ll call the police for assistance.”  That sounds wonderful right up until you come up against a stark reality.

And that stark reality is, nobody usually calls 9-1-1 in these cases until the violence is already underway, or at least imminent! A person neither trained nor equipped to deal with violence – particularly armed violence – has limited odds of surviving that violence once they get there trying to do what has always been a police job for a very good reason.

Mr. Wilson, and the other slain Violence Interrupter who was not named in the article, are martyrs to a starry-eyed idealism that did not stand up to the cold reality of those who do criminal harm to others, whatever is driving the violent action.


  1. My deepest sympathies to Mr. Wilson and his survivors. This was undoubtedly an avoidable tragedy.

    The leaders of certain large cities have demonstrated and frequently said aloud that dead residents are abhorrent to them (even if they’ve been committing unambiguously felonious violence), but dead cops don’t bother these politicians one bit. I imagine that they’re willing to have dead social workers instead.

    • Sure. No skin of their necks, either way.

      Funny how the one who is immune from real world consequences of stupidity is always eager to put some one ELSE in harm’s way. . Some forty years ago I was university working toward a degree and career in social work. I’d have been the poor unarmed sap going in to tame the rabid gorilla in five minutes. Even back then I started to see the insanity of the trade, and bailed. Things have got several quantum leaps worse since that starry eyed season.

      How long will it be before a mass exodus of social workers occurs just as it has from lw enforcement? OR a mass movement toward being armed in spiteof rules and customs to the contrary? Uber and Lyft and Papa Murphy drivers are not supposed to be armed on duty. Every once in a while we read of yet another such employee who was armed, and lived, in spite of the “rules”. Some have been fired because of their decision to choose life over slavery. Others we never learned whether they still had a job after their own defense. I always assume if he’d been fired we’d have heard. Main thing is the poor guy LIVED. But these two public servants did not.

  2. It would appear to me that the closest answer would be a team of at least 2 veteran cops, highly trained in firearms, highly trained and equipped with less lethal weapons, and highly trained in medical and mental health emergencies. Of course, this would involve much additional funding and an actual commitment on the part of elected officials to serve their communities and not pander to Marxist nitwits. Probably not gonna happen. My sympathies go out to any social workers who have to confront these violent individuals and to the families of these people who only want to get them help. I think you can go back to the closing of most residential mental health facilities for the roots of this problem.

    • You can only be a ” veteran” of the armed forces. I am getting tired of those that are employed in “civilian” law enforcement for any period of time referred to as a ” veteran” of that department. That , and by your referral shows the biased media influence in public and your train of thought.

      • And I’m getting tired of people who lack knowledge of a word’s definitions attempting to school others in their use of a word. 😉

        Oxford Languages Dictionary


        noun: veteran; plural noun: veterans

        1. A person who has had long experience in a particular field.
        “a veteran of two world wars”

        retired soldier
        old hand
        old stager
        past master
        master hand
        old warhorse
        well versed
        well trained


        2. A person who has served in the military.
        “a veteran of two world wars”

    • I am not a LEO, but I worked for the LAPD for several years and got to know many of the officers. Most of them would gladly welcome more training, including the kind of training that you mention. In fact, some even seek such training on their own; ‘on their own time and their own dime”. But therein lies the problem. Such training takes time and money. It takes much more money than some seem to realize because, not only does someone have to pay the people who do the training, but they also must pay the officers to go, and pay overtime to the officers who cover for them while they are being trained. In a similar way, most people would like officers to have more training before they hit the streets. However, that means more people paid to provide more training, and more officer candidates costing money to be trained for longer times, but not yet doing the work of police officers.

      So, the solution is very simple; just raise everyone’s property taxes and spend that windfall on more police training! Yup; it really is that simple. Oh, but first you need to go to the tax payers and explain to them that their taxes are going up, and that they will not see any return on that expense for a while, but that they should just trust us and pay up. And, you need to do this at the same time police agencies are being “defunded”!

      Please get back to us and let us know how that goes.

      (Sorry for sounding a little snarky. I am not bad-mouthing anyone, it’s just my style, unfortunately.)

  3. Over half a century ago I took part in several team efforts to retrain EDPs. It can be an educational experience you’ll never forget.

    I think that one of the problems with respect to this issue is that the well meaning folks have no direct experience with actual violence. While this is a good thing overall and in the abstract, it seriously handicaps them in understanding the actual problem. Unfortunately, exposing them to training scenarios isn’t a solution to the problem as they’ll insist that the scenario “wasn’t realistic”.

    • Apparently these are street people who have had experience with violence and have turned their lives around. I would add that once seduced by starry eyed liberals who never experienced violence personally themselves and subsequently convinced that words will disarm those intent on doing evil these VIs (violence interruptors) have been re-educaated into naivete.

    • sorta like taking a chap out on a calm lake in a nineteen foot outboard skiff, letting him drive it about the lake a few turns, then turning him loose on a seventy foot ocean going sailing yacht and telling him to meet you n Kaneohe Bay in two weeks.

  4. As a clinical psychologist, now retired, I never forgot a situation that occurred fifty years ago when I was just starting out. A man with a gun in the emergency room (poor search let him in there) held a woman hostage and was threatening to kill her. A young psychiatrist on duty volunteered to replace the hostage but did not live to be an old psychiatrist as he was shot in the head by the kidnapper. I could never understand what was in his mind when he volunteered and I fault his supervisor for letting him participate in a potentially fatal interaction. One can never predict the actions of criminal or mentally ill individuals. The suggestions by Mark above are a good start for thinking about these situations.

  5. All those that support a social worker approach and certainly all those who have a vote in making it a reality should have a minimum required hours of ride along time with those who are currently responding to them.

  6. “the other slain Violence Interrupter who was not named in the article”

    Not sure if the article was updated, but looks like they did name him:

    “Wilson is the second Safe Streets employee to be shot and killed this year.

    In January Dante Barksdale, a Safe Streets director, was shot and killed in the 200 block of Douglas Court.

    In May, police arrested 28-year-old Garrick Powell in connection with Barksdale’s murder.”

    There’s no indication in the article that the murder was the result of sending the volunteer to a 9-1-1 call, as your post suggests. Is there more story on that somewhere?

  7. Anyone with experience finds no surprises in the results of undereducated social workers being used to “assist” law enforcement.

    The question is how do we get the slower government officials to recognize the problem. We can recognize the mental blocks every time “gun violence” is mentioned instead of “criminal violence”, the correct term for these situations. How do we convince a dullard politician that John Lott is correct (More Guns, Less Crime)? Until this is accomplished, I see no solutions. As most of my elected officials can’t see past the end of their noses, my efforts there have also been fruitless. Help!

  8. If you had somehow had me disarmed and sent a social worker to respond when The Ex’s violent stalker ex who outweighed us both combined decided to make it Game Day (thankfully he never did, largely because I was there, well-equipped and quite ready to serve up his Game Over even though the cost of saving her life would’ve almost certainly been him and me going down together) the only thing it would’ve accomplished would be another grave in need of digging.

    Social Workers Replacing Cops = Undertaker and Gravedigger Job Security, nothing more. As an addition to the toolbag, sure, maybe cross-train a few guys absolutely, but you can’t Protect & Serve unless the guys you need to protect FROM know that continued aggression WILL be hazardous to their health.

  9. Mas, this is one time that I have to disagree… ‘They’ CAN replace a LEO with a Social Worker, even though they shouldn’t, and obviously they will – and have – and will continue to do so until either it becomes impossible to find more Social Workers willing to risk their lives or the number of injuries and deaths gets to a level that even they have to admit defeat.
    My late wife was a Social Worker when I met her (no, I wasn’t a client – she was taking a hobby-related class that I was teaching). Even back then – around 1979 – there was talk about having Social Workers accompany LEO’s. She quit the trade soon afterward so I don’t know if the county actually tried it.

  10. There was a much copied meme showing two cops laughing about the prospect of social workers dealing with an EDP – unfortunately as the stories you referenced show, it’s not a laughing matter. If there was any ‘justice’ in the social justice movement, all those clamoring for defunding the police would have no access to 911 calls and have to deal with any issues on their own, without paid security. This would go double to whoever sent those two social workers to their deaths – My sympathies to their families…
    I’ve always said that liberals/progressives are out of touch with reality, and this situation is a good example of that.

  11. This was first brought to my attention more than 40 years ago by a man who was a robbery/homicide detective that wanted me to become a police officer he told to many of the people that were trying to become officers wanted to be social workers with a gun.

  12. I do think the police are routinely called for things that they shouldn’t be, and I do think there should be partnerships between the police and social workers. A cop simply isn’t going to have the training to deal with a lot of the cases a social worker will, and likewise, a social worker won’t have the training a police officer will. I could see in situations where violence is a possibility, pairing a social worker with a plain-clothes police officer being possibly a good strategy.

  13. As a Critical Care Nurse I have to deal with EDPs quite often. Especially now as the weather has warmed and people are starting to go out and about again after the long stay-at-home period is starting to subside, we have a number of drug and alcohol withdrawal patients in our MICU. Some of them need to be restrained and the soft (“non-violent”) restraints are not all that strong. (If we use the hardened, locking Violent Restraints we have to chart restraint checks every 15 minutes and the time it would take to do that would have a significant effect on actual patient care). Sometimes strong patients can get out of the NV restraints and they can be violent. I’ve had training in my past and still, it’s good to know that our well armed, well trained and generally BIG hospital security personal can be to the floor within about a minute. Still, a lot can happen in a minute. But I can’t imagine going unequipped into situations where actual police response is more like 5 to 10 minutes out, or more.

  14. As someone who has answered all sorts of calls for service, I would recommend a police officer(s) respond initially to a request of help. That officer can then determine by the kind of assistance required and the safety factor involved, if a social worker would be more appropriate for that situation. This will free the police from spending/wasting time on some minor event better handled by a social worker, and the cop can respond to calls holding that need their kind of attention. I have used up so much time listening to people who just want to talk to someone concerning their personal problems or vent their frustrations to a bored cop who needs to be somewhere else maintaining the peace.

  15. So, the Left wants us to believe that the police are too violent. Too quick to go for their guns. What we need are social workers to defuse the situation, so that it ends peacefully. I call BOVINE SCATOLOGY on their “plan.”

    They know this won’t work. It is designed to fail. The social workers will not be able to protect themselves nor society. The Left will claim we need a new “solution” to the problem of crime.
    That solution will be a federal police force. They want to get rid of local cops and replace them with federal cops, who will be easier for the federal government to control. These federal cops will go after the Left’s political enemies, after they are painted as terrorists.

    This is all a power grab. Overwhelm the system, break the system, blame the system, replace the system with the Left’s “solutions.” Obama knew Obamacare would fail. It was designed to fail, so the Left could tell us, “hey, this didn’t work, so let’s try government-run healthcare, because everyone needs healthcare. We have to have compassion.”

    We prize the individual. That is a good thing, but look where it has lead us. It has lead us to an extreme. We don’t want anyone to die. We don’t want criminals, the insane or the homeless to die. Sounds very noble, but allowing these violent people to live harms society when these crazy, violent people attack the law-abiding, reduce the quality of life in cities, and scare away business. Maybe we should try to balance respect for the individual with the protection of society. Maybe there are no perfect solutions, only compromises which benefit most of the law-abiding people, most of the time.

  16. “Violence Interrupters” are in very short supply right now. The retailers in my area say the shortage for 9mm violence interrupters won’t change until the midterm election.

    Don’t even get me started about the availability of Benelli M4 “violence interrupter distribution appliances”

  17. The main problem with “Violence Interrupter” programs is that there are a lot of situations where they work. Politicians can see that, and say, “I told you this would work.” Violence Interrupters can solve a lot of problems in situations where armed force isn’t needed.

    But sooner or later there’s a situation where “violence interruption” doesn’t work. Unfortunately, by the time you figure out a particular violent person would rather kill than talk, 9-1-1 is way too late. And there’s no way to tell, going in, which way a situation will go down.

    Every year armed LEOs make thousands of routine stops, and interact peacefully with the person stopped. And every year a few of those stops aren’t routine, and unless the officers are damn well-trained and following their training, you have to bury them.

    I spent quite a few years working with survivors of sexual assault and family violence, and got pretty good at it. But I also knew that if an abuser was anywhere in the vicinity, I was in way over my head. So I made sure that didn’t happen, mainly by calling cops to deal with them.

  18. @ Mas – “People who do not have to deal with the violently mentally ill don’t understand why they sometimes have to be harmed….”

    This entire ridiculous concept flows from the wrong and mistaken ideas of left-wing ideology.

    Remember that left-wing ideology is founded upon a CORE ASSUMPTION that human beings are innately “GOOD”. That people NATURALLY want to do right. This leads directly to the mistaken mindset that external, environmental factors cause 100% of the evil in this World. Therefore, ALL THE EVIL ACTIONS OF EVERY HUMAN BEING UPON THE PLANET EARTH can be explained away (and hence forgiven) as a FORCED acted of Evil. Evil that is forced and made manifest by societies’ failure to properly control the World and our environment.

    This is why leftists are such TOTAL CONTROL FREAKS. In their minds and hearts, they believe that only TOTAL CONTROL can save the World and usher in the Left-Wing Utopia.

    Therefore, the insane actions of the American Left are totally understandable once one understands the warped worldview and mindset of the Left:

    1) Defund the police and empty the prisons? Of course! Punitive actions like arrests, imprisonment and executions are not required. That is punishing the victims of society under the left-wing perspective. What is needed is drug treatment, rehabilitation and social workers! Not unjust punishment!

    2) Armed citizens? Horrors! One should never need to defend oneself from a benevolent (if misguided) fellow human-being! In fact, from the left-wing perspective, firearms are one of those social factors that is causing all the violence. Eliminate the guns and you will eliminate “Gun Violence”. That is as simple as 2+2=4 to the left-wing mindset.

    3) Fear government overreach? Afraid that it might lead to tyrannical oppression? Don’t be ridiculous! The extreme concentration of power in the hands of the Government is an unmitigated GOOD! How else can we obtain complete control over our environment and over society without a supremely powerful central government to make it happen?

    You see how the adoption of the underlying false assumption, that all humans are innately good, leads directly to a cascade of disastrous policies? As the computer programmers say: GIGO – Garbage In – Garbage Out.

    Feed the garbage idea that all humans are innately good into your policy generator and what pops out is an entire flood of left-wing GARBAGE policies! The concept of replacing the police with “Social Workers” is just one such garbage policy. One of thousands that flow directly out of the mistaken mass of bad ideas under the left-wing umbrella!

  19. More “reality-optional” Leftist nonsense that achieves the antithesis of its stated goal.

  20. Defunding and closing state hospitals starting in the 1960’s is a root cause of most of the misfortune. The plan was to fund “Community Mental Health” organizations, ie clinics, throughout the nation. It never happened to the extent required. Sadly, police agencies and correctional institutions became the primary providers of mental health services, but without the needed training and other resources. Now we’ve opened the doors, or rather the floodgates, loosing the seriously and criminally mental ill upon society, through criminal justice reforms. It begs the question if these are unintended consequences, or is this another wrecking ball upon civil society by design?

    • Well said. Both parties are complicit, one cutting state costs & taxes, the other freeing warehoused “prisoners” who could humanely medicate at home (per the psychiatric community) and contribute to society.

      The reality of home medication should have been apparent, but either it wasn’t or it was ignored as an (forgive me for the phrase, but it fits) inconvenient truth.

    • Robert Graysmith’s best selling book “Zodiac” about the 1960s-70s serial killer talks about that and it would explain a lot. Basically the idea is that a lot of these types were kept institutionalized under the old rules and were basically not able to hurt anyone. However, it became apparant that it was also very easy to lock someone up under very iffy pretexts. So changes were made and before long things changed in terrible ways.

  21. If the Second Amendment was the actual law of the whole country, why couldn’t “Violence Interrupters” carry a handgun when/if they personally felt the need. Then, they would only call the Police when conversation failed and they had to revert to self defense?

    • Tahn,

      I like what you wrote. You state that we should provide for OUR OWN DEFENSE. That is what true, self-reliant, patriotic Americans have always done. They still do this in jurisdictions which recognize the Second Amendment. If a social worker protected himself or others in Hawaii, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New York or New Jersey he had better be able to prove that he did everything perfectly. Those states don’t like the idea of citizens defending themselves with firearms.

      If my knowledge of history is accurate, there were no police until the first police were created in London, England in the 1850s. Before that, counties had sheriffs who would put together posses of armed citizens to arrest criminals. So, citizens did their own police work. As we know, citizens can protect themselves, if their local and state governments permit them to. Otherwise, after you defend yourself from the criminal, you have to defend yourself from the government’s legal system. Tyrants come in all sizes.

  22. Here is what happens when one leaves the Ivory Tower of Left-Wing ideology and enters the real World:

    and here is another example of the “Real World” consequences of the American Left trying to impose its delusional Utopia upon America:

    This is just a foretaste of the lawlessness that we are facing thanks to the American Left and the Democrat Party. It will get much, much, much worse before it gets better again!

      • TN_MAN,

        Those poor criminals! If only they had been apprehended by the police they could be sitting comfortably in jail awaiting trial from a judge who understands them. Instead, they ran into Trump supporters, while practicing the only trade they know in this unfair capitalist world, and died at the hands of those merciless racists! We can’t let this snowball. We have to refund the police so that criminals will be treated mercifully. We can’t have gun-loving, bloodthirsty citizens preying on our criminal class. If this goes on for too long, criminals may be put on the “Endangered Species” list.

        Here ends my attempt at humor. I’m glad these Americans were allowed to defend themselves with firearms. When I hear about all the murders in Chicago, I assume that most of them are gang members killing gang members, with some innocent people killed as a result of bad marksmanship on the part of the gang members. It’s terrible to have violence in a city but when I think about criminals killing other criminals, I confess I just don’t feel too bad about that. A dead gang-banger saves the courts’ time because no trial is necessary, and the taxpayers don’t have to pay to house him in prison for the next 60 years. Maybe someone could teach the gang-bangers better marksmanship, and let the culling continue. WHEN A BAD MAN DIES, THE EARTH BECOMES BETTER FOR THE REST OF US. People think criminals can be reformed. A few can, but most can’t.

      • Roger, I saw on Fox News a list of the victims in Chicago shot over the July 4th weekend and it appears from their names that most were gang members. About a third of the list were listed as “unknown male”, so they were most likely gangsters too. I feel bad for the innocent victims, but not for the savages who were slaughtering each other over drugs. Unfortunately many were just wounded so their accuracy sucks and costs us taxpayers more money to treat them.

  23. By coincidence, the New York Post just ran a story about the NYPD’s elite Emergency Services Unit. You can find it here:

    In addition to learning scuba diving and rappeling, they study psychological techniques at NY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

    So far this year, the 500 members of the ESU have responded to: 214 barricaded suspects, 74 jumpers, 31 vehicle extrications, and 82,525 emotionally disturbed persons.

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