California banned the term “excited delirium.” Will it make a difference?

The term “excited delirium” has become a lightning rod that evokes strong reactions on all sides. Advocates and many in the medical profession have raised legitimate concerns that the term was being applied too broadly and used to justify too many fatal incidents involving police restraint. At the same time, police have raised legitimate concerns about having primary responsibility for handling people who are in crisis, difficult to engage, and need medical attention.

Full story: California banned the term “excited delirium.” Will it make a difference?

3 Replies to “California banned the term “excited delirium.” Will it make a difference?”

  1. I, for one, had been unfamiliar with the concept of “excited delirium” , which is used to describe individuals experiencing an altered and agitated mental state, and as a result, causing public unrest. The term is often used in broad strokes to defend law enforcement behavior, but as this PERF report notes, this one term can never fully encompass the details of each particular crime. Why is this term being used to cover bases when we have technology like body-worn cameras? Of course, footage doesn’t always capture the whole frame of a crime. However, if the focus of departments is to reduce these types of crimes and public blowback, why isn’t there more of a commitment to proper training and education rather than making excuses?

    1. Hey, Ethan, I do think that it is a problem that Law Enforcement officers say the term “Excited Delirium” often but I think that it is due to a lack of education in this area. I feel that if Law Enforcement officers had more knowledge of different types of mental disorders and why people who have these disorders are acting in this manner then they would not say this term as frequently. Now I do think that Officers go through all sorts of stressful situations every day in certain areas and this is why they have been so desensitized to say this in there reports. But overall I think the main answer to this is that knowledge cures ignorance.

  2. While there is controversy about using the term “excited delirium”, some that is more than valid and some that may no be so much, I think a huge part we should focus on addressing the underlying issue in crisis response and police training. There’s always a need for improved training for law enforcement- one that teaches them to recognize and effectively manage situations that involve those who are in crisis. The training should include understanding the signs of medical emergencies and mental health crises while also focusing on de-escalation techniques. It should also include when its necessary to use appropriate force. This can only be done by a collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies, emergency services, dispatchers, and medical professionals. It’s not as simple as changing a name.

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