Could Laura's Law Have Prevented The Seal Beach Shooting?

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Scott Dekraai
The list of local tragedies that might have been averted by Laura's Law is growing. 

Yesterday's post focused on a county-drafted and rather negative report on Laura's Law, which was thrust into the spotlight after the tragic beating death of Kelly Thomas, who suffered from schizophrenia.

DJ Jaffe, the executive director of the Mental Illness Policy Organization, says he thinks Scott Dekraai, the suspect in the mass shooting at a Seal Beach salon, needed Laura's Law, too.

In a piece he wrote for the Huffington Post yesterday, Jaffe writes:
"If media reports are true, Scott Dekraai... had bipolar disorder, a history of violence, wouldn't stay on treatment, and was a perfect candidate for Laura's Law except for one fact: Orange County mental health officials -- like mental health officials throughout California -- refuse to implement Laura's Law." 

Jaffe, who has a mentally ill relative himself, told the Weekly that because of the recent tragedies, the topic of treating the mentally ill is still fresh in most people's minds and county officials should therefore act quickly to implement the law. "Unfortunately, nobody wants to help when it's just to help people with mental illness. If there's a victim, then all of the sudden people care," Jaffe says. "It doesn't take incidents like this to get the families to notice this, but it does for the public."

Jaffe called the recently released county report on Laura's Law "biased" and "inaccurate," adding that he thinks the county needs to act before the next tragedy unfolds. "Orange County policy is to only treat people who volunteer. That's a huge hole. You need a program that will prevent people from being dangerous, not one that treats them after they already are." 

But, Orange County isn't the only place in California that might have avoided recent tragedy if they implemented the law, Jaffe says. 

A couple of weeks ago, a SWAT team in Sacramento County killed Aaron Bassler, a mentally ill man who allegedly killed a Fort Bragg councilman and Mendocino County employee in August.

In an op-ed piece earlier this month, James Bassler, the alleged shooter's father, argues that Laura's Law could have saved his son and the two men his son allegedly killed.

Bassler writes: 
"We would have liked some sort of help from mental health services, but none came because he would not admit a problem. He was considered an adult even though he could not function as one. We cared about him and we did what we could on our own. He was a big problem, but at this time he was not perceived as dangerous."


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