Tuesday, November 1

Mental Illness and Security - Carl Chinn, "Think About It"

From: CarlChinn.Com (Reposted with Permission)

Mental Illness and Security

I read hundreds of stories regarding crime at faith-based organizations every year, and have done so for years. Still I hope to never lose that heavy lump in my throat and hurting heart as I read some of them.

I hope you, as security professionals in faith-based environments, never become so hardened you forget that people have real hurts.

This is kind of a tender week for our family anyway. My Dad – Jack Chinn – was aboard the USS Princeton (Aircraft Carrier) when she was sank by a Japanese dive bomber on October 24th, 1944 in the battle at Leyte Gulf. Dad didn’t have to survive the battle that day and many of his friends did not. Because he did, our family came to be. The date became an annual recognition of God’s grace in our lives.

But it seemed that late October would become an anniversary for other tragedies in our family as well, some of which are too tender to write of publicly.

If there were a picture in the encyclopedia of a “man of god” it would be of Dad (he wouldn’t agree). There isn’t a day goes by that members of our family don’t make good decisions due in part to the wise council Dad engrained into the cultural fabric of our family. He loved God first, Mom next, then us 3 boys. I’m not saying Dad was perfect, but he walked the line better than anyone I have ever known, with a remarkable way of passing on value to many who came in contact with him.

So it hit us very hard when Dad, a very good public speaker, writer and teacher, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s many years ago. It just didn’t make sense. Not only was he not a typical candidate (if there really is such a thing), it was just plain unfair. That unfairness played out over a 12-year period. Dad’s long goodbye ended on October 28th, 2005. He was 83.

When it comes to mental illness, I’m no expert, but I have experienced the pain associated with it, consequently becoming more sympathetic and understanding of those who deal with the many forms of mental illness. All of the forms are just plain unfair.

That heavy lump in my throat hit again this week as I was researching the story of 74-year old Clartha McLeod Epps. Clartha was physically healthy, but had been recently diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s when an acquaintance (unaware of the diagnosis) dropped her off at the Hickory Grove Church on old Manning Road in Turbeville, SC in the evening of January 30, 2009.

That was the last anyone has seen her.


· Be aware of medical and mental issues associated with people around you. Even a diabetic reaction can make a normally social person seem belligerent. There is an abundance of medical issues that affect good people, and sometimes they need our attention and care.

· Regardless of the mental or emotional state of a person, as security operatives in faith-based environments, we must never forget what we represent. Our protective duties do not include making character judgments on people who are not acting the way we think they should. It is only when they become a danger to themselves or others that we step in, and even then it is done so with compassion. When you “handle” someone with mental issues, keep in mind it is just that – a mental issue -- they are a real person with real needs. They are also someone’s brother, son, wife or mother experiencing the pain associated with their disease.

· An outside presence is one of the most critical positions of a security team. You aren’t always looking for a bad person – just anything that doesn’t look right in the parking lot, driveways, playgrounds, and outdoor equipment. Be aware of the movements of all people. Someone like Clartha might need your help.

· Churches are far behind others in recognizing the value of surveillance cameras. In today’s day and age, there is no good reason for not having surveillance for the protection of the people and property in your care. Even the best security eyes and ears can’t be there all the time. Let well-planned technology do some of the heavy lifting. It could have made a difference for folks like Clartha and others.

· If you live in the Turbeville, SC area (just east of Columbia), and wish to volunteer your security, law enforcement, or investigative skills to the Clartha McLeod Epps case specifically, please contact Monica Caison at (910) 232-1687 or cuecenter@aol.com

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