As a child, I had books of baseball and football cards.
In one of those albums was a card of San Diego Chargers quarterback Jesse Freitas.
Freitas attended Stanford and San Diego State universities, and played for the Chargers in the 1970s.
Last Thursday, Jesse Lee Freitas was committed by a California judge to three years (max) in the Atascadero State Hospital.
The sixty-two year old former football player has battled mental illness for years.
This won't be his first stay at a psychiatric hospital, as Freitas was ordered there in 2012 as well.
Over the past several years, he has been arrested for a variety of crimes including theft, arson, hit-and-run, violation of protection orders, and has been under a variety of court-ordered supervision methods.
He has a reputation for refusing to take his doctor-ordered medications; even flushing them down the toilet while incarcerated.
During a 2012 court hearing, he told the judge he was through not taking his meds--that he wanted change.
Sadly, he was not able to deliver his promise, and his erratic and violent behaviors continued.
The US criminal justice system is well populated with those like Freitas.
Individuals struggling with mental health issues.
Individuals that families have tried unsuccessfully to help.
Individuals that police are then called to deal with at 3 am on a Saturday.
In an attempt to better educate police about the mentally ill, an important training session was held in February in Virginia.
At that class, former firefighter James Gibson told his personal struggles with mental illness to officers from Chesterfield County.
Gibson reminded officers how life can change in an instant, and discussed how his behavioral problems resulted in him being committed to a secure psychiatric facility.
I hope other police agencies in the US consider innovative training like Chesterfield County did.
Officers can then improve themselves for future encounters with the mentally ill.
And better support citizens with loved ones battling these illnesses; as the families of Jesse Freitas and James Gibson do on a daily basis.
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