Let It Rip: The dangerous intersection of the mentally ill and guns

Detroit Police Officer Glenn Doss. Jr. followed in his father's footsteps on the force, taking an oath to protect and serve. Last month, he was gunned down in the line of duty and died later at the hospital. 

The family of the man suspected of shooting Doss Jr., Decharlos Brooks, says he is mentally ill, and he is currently undergoing a competency examination while awaiting trial on murder charges. 

Doss Jr.'s father says he hopes the court will find him competent. 

"To me, I believe that when he loaded the gun he was competent. I believe when he dialed 911 and said it was a domestic violence situation, he was competent. I believe that when he went outside and looked down the street and recognized it was a police car, not just any plain, old car, and fired shots, he was competent. I also believe that when the other cars pulled up to assist and he fired at them - over 30 shots - he was competent," Glenn Doss Sr. told us while he joined us for a special edition of Let It Rip. 

Detroit Police Chief James Craig, Mark Diaz, President of Detroit Police Officer's Association, and Mark Young, President of the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association, also joined.

Chief Craig says on an average month, Detroit officers handle 500 calls involving persons with mental illness. He says of those calls, between 100-150 of them a month involve an armed mentally ill person.

"What do we want to do? Just continue to put the band-aid on it? You know, the 72-hour hold? And then what happens next? They're out. They re-offend," Craig says. "What we've done -- we've criminalized the mentally ill."

Man charged with killing DPD Officer Glenn Doss has outburst in court

Chief Craig reiterated that his officers are trained to handle those types of calls, and that they do handle them patiently and peacefully. He noted that in the case of Doss Jr.'s shooting, after Brooks allegedly shot at officers, authorities still negotiated with him for four hours before taking him into custody peacefully, without incident. 

Craig called back to 1992, when the then-governor stripped funding from mental health, he said. 

"[The money] transferred from mental health to, guess what? Criminal justice. Police officers," Craig said. "This has nothing to do with the courts. This has everything to do with sustained treatment.

"People suffering from mental illness aren't being treated. So, what happens? His son is killed. We talk. We talk about the hero from Wayne State. We talk. We talk about mass shooting incidents around the country. We talk a little more. But we're not doing anything. I'm fed up with having conversations."

"This ridiculousness has to stop with respect to taking our mentally ill and trying to rehabilitate them in the jail system, or leaving them out on the streets to fend for themselves where we have police officers being killed," says Diaz. 

Diaz says there aren't enough therapists in the correctional system to actually address all of the individuals who are recognized as having a mental illness. Everyone, agreed, too, that long-term mental health would be a solution, but many institutions in Michigan have been shut down. 

Young says, in the meantime, new laws and vigilant family members can help. 

"The laws must be strengthened and family must be accountable, too; they know when the mentally ill have guns. The family could be a better conduit to us to let us know what is going on, and a better buffer instead of us being the front line," he said. 

Doss Sr. added that, as a police officer, he sees parents at the scene of a crime not wanting to realize their child has gone astray. 

"In today's society, it gets to the point ... where we got to call evil "evil", and good is good," he says. 

At the end of the day, Diaz asks that the public be aware of the intersection between guns and the mentally ill. He also asks that the public be conscientious of who gets voted into office, that that person is also aware of this intersection that's proving more and more dangerous. 

"Our goal is to see [those with a mental illness] get treatment before they're in the penal system," says Young. "And before they can hurt anyone else," 

You can hear more from them in the full Let It Rip discussion in the video player above.