Letter to the Editor: Please recognize mental illness

Dear Editor:
On Aug. 26, 2014, our son, Logan Piper, was involved in an altercation with law enforcement in the parking lot of Pioneers Medical Center (PMC). Since rumors are sometimes inaccurate or incomplete, we would like to bring awareness and a better understanding of mental health to the community by sharing some of our story.

Logan was diagnosed at an early age with bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and various other disorders. Due to the number of mental health issues that Logan experiences, numerous psychiatrists, counselors and other medical and mental health professionals have been involved with his care. Treatment for mental health illness involves individual medication management and counseling that requires continual therapy, support, medication changes and adjustments.
On Aug. 26, 2014, as I took Logan to the hospital to get help for decompensating psychosis, law enforcement was available per family request if needed. We appreciate former Sheriff Si Woodruff’s attempt to help our son and regret the injury he sustained during the crisis.
However, we would like to commend Meeker Police Chief Bob Hervey for his actions that day and his ability to remain calm and de-escalate the situation. During this crisis, Logan was feeling suicidal and paranoid, and we believe that Chief Hervey’s actions and interventions prevented our son from being gunned down and killed by law enforcement.
Our experience during this crisis indicates that more education and training for officers and any other professionals involved with the public needs to be addressed. Learning about mental illness and de-escalating techniques improves the safety of law enforcement during crisis intervention.
Our son did not choose to have mental illness. Just like diabetes or autism, we need to educate ourselves about the disease. Treating mental illness is just like treating medical conditions but, unfortunately, our society is sometimes unaware or ignorant of the issues.
We hope that something positive will be learned from this incident. I gathered information about Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and shared with current Sheriff Anthony Mazzola. This training educates officers to improve crisis intervention and safety when dealing with mental health situations or issues. CIT involves 40 hours of specialized training available statewide in Colorado—how law enforcement responds to behavior influences and how society views that behavior.
The Piper family is very thankful and appreciates all the support this community continues to provide. We pray that our son Logan will get the proper help and treatment he needs and deserves.
Dealing with mental illness is sometimes challenging but we will always love our son and be there for him.
For more information about mental illness and resources, please go to nami.org, Mind Springs Meeker, 970- 878-5112, or call the Crisis Line 24/7 at 888-207-4004.
David and Lisa Piper
and Family