Fox (pictured left): "But he had PTSD. He also had high anxiety. He also had bipolar. He was going to the VA for it. He was seeing a therapist and a psychologist."
In the 911 audio, one can hear the caller saying there was a guy "going nuts" at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier. Then, in a video recorded by a witness... "Oh s*** the gun went off. Holy s***."
KSLA's Stacey Cameron: "When he left, did you have any indication he might be in a psychiatric crisis?"
Fox: "No. I would of never let him leave if I thought, you know, there was a problem."
Dana Larkins, Jefferson's sister (pictured left): "He could go anywhere and make a friend, so it was like wherever he went, he made a friend. He was very caring. He would give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it."
KSLA's Stacey Cameron: "You told me your son had a mental health diagnosis. What did he suffer from?"
Bessie Mae Dew, Jefferson's mother (pictured left): "Schizophrenic bipolar."
Dew: "It was a normal, typical day. We got up and he came in the room. We talked and I said, 'Johnathan, I'm going to go to Stonewall and help one of my friends move, but I'll be back.' He said, 'Well, go ahead, mama. I'll stay here 'til you come back.' That was the last time I talked to him."
Members of the medical community believe the Shreveport-Bossier area is facing a mental health crisis that has been many years in the making. Experts like Ryan Williams, CEO of Seedlinks Behavior Management (pictured left), say the community lacks mental health resources.
Cameron: "When you saw stories like Tommie McGlothen play out locally, what were the thoughts that went through your mind?"
Williams: "Naturally, you want to help. You want to almost jump in the screen and try to help, because at that point in time, you see someone, they don't necessarily need a police officer. They need a doctor, they need a social worker. They need someone to ask not, 'what's wrong with you?' but 'how can I help you?' And that situation went bad real fast, and it shouldn't have gotten to that point, but when you have a community where over 35, 45 percent of people dealing with mental issues and you have a police officer who's not aware of how to deal with that particular person, then it's a problem on top of a problem, and that person's in mental distress and we don't have anyone that's properly trained to deal with them at the scene, it's going to escalate and turn into more and more problems."
Essentially, people who are experiencing a mental health crisis may not be aware of what they're doing.
"Of course, they’re not in their right mind. They don't know what they’re doing, and they need medical services. They don't need to be in jail. Unfortunately, many of them end up there, but that's not where they need to be," Dr. Kennedy (pictured right) said.
"Forty hour CIT training is not a one size fits all at all. The only thing that's standardized is that it's 40 hours, and so a lot of our training is not just teaching them active listening, effective communication, de-escalation, we also teach them about the basic fundamentals of mental illness. We teach them things about like schizophrenia, bipolar, PTSD. We teach them about suicide, but a big part of our training, and what I believe sets us apart, is there's almost equal emphasis placed on the individual officer and we teach them about police officer suicide. We teach them about officer wellness. It's a mixture of my partner, Jesse, and I doing the training for the police portion of this or the first responder, 'cause we also train the fire departments as well," Smarro explained.
"Again, what people really need to understand is it's nanoseconds that things are happening. There is no play. There is no rewind button. There is no timeout in those situations, so officers have to be on their toes. They have to really consider what it is that they're doing, and it's all happening really quick." -Lt. Silva (pictured right)
"So we'll start on a Monday just doing active listening. On Tuesday, we'll introduce psychosis, maybe they're hearing voices, you know, delusional, whatever it is, and can they effectively de-escalate using the skills that we teach them? Wednesday, we'll introduce suicide, how to do a proper suicide assessment. Thursday, they get a break from the roleplays because we'll bring in a community panel, you know, four to six people with life experiences that are willing to come forward and say, 'This is my diagnosis. I've had this run-in with law enforcement. I was addicted to this or that, I'm in treatment, and this is what I would love for you guys to know.' But really what it comes down to is 'I'm a person.' And then Friday is testing and we give them a written test. They have to pass. And then we give them a roleplay test where the time is extended and they have to pass that one, you know? And then we give them a certification saying like, yes, we say that you are, in our opinion, who we would deem ourselves as experts in this field, you are equipped to effectively do this crisis intervention approach on these calls. And the feedback we've gotten from the officers that have already gone through our program here locally has been absolutely incredible for us. I tell people, I'm not just saying this because I'm here, but it has really been one of our favorite groups because they're so hungry for this training. They're so hungry and optimistic about the value of what this training could provide," said Smarro.
Lt. Silva talks about why CIT is a paradigm shift in the way departments do their policing going forward.
"You know, moving forward, man, I want, I want the rest of these guys to have, you know, something that I didn't, that would have been so helpful. Thank God there weren't any catastrophic situations, but it certainly would have helped me to understand some things a little bit more," Silva said.
"Any advanced training that we can get these kids, these young officers to recognize things, to make their job better and to better serve these citizens, especially the ones that, you know, have mental illness. Hopefully it's going to make a difference to where these encounters with the mentally ill don't always end violently," Capt. Oster said. "It's a new way of thinking for us. It's a new way of training for us. It is handling these situations in a totally different fashion than we've been trained to up until this point."
"A lot of these people who are out of touch with reality and hearing voices and hearing things and seeing things and acting in a delusional state are definitely a threat to themselves, so they're gravely disabled." -Dr. Todd Thoma, Caddo Parish coroner and associate professor of emergency medicine for Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport (pictured left)
KSLA's Stacey Cameron: "Are emergency rooms really designed to deal with mentally ill patients?"
Dr. Bowers (pictured right): "Some emergency rooms are better designed for this than others, although I feel this emergency department [Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport] has done a good job."
Cameron: "But this isn't the ideal place for a person suffering a psychiatric crisis?"
Dr. Bowers: "That's true, because while the patient is coming in for a psychiatric illness, we are still seeing patients for acute traumas, acute stroke, acute heart attacks, and all the other various complaints that patients come in for, and so at times, I feel that psychiatric patients could be better benefited from a dedicated hospital to take care of their needs."
"I think the stigma of mental illness among people who are working and have functionable lives and families and go about their daily lives, I think that stigma is very great and keeps a lot of people from seeking the help they need," -Christa Pazzaglia, executive director of HOPE Connections (pictured left)
"When we're dealing with these people, with these mental illnesses, for lack of a better term, they're repeat offenders. We see a lot of the same ones over again, you know, because they can't get the help. We'll commit them to LSU or their family will commit them to the hospital, they'll get a little bit of treatment, and next thing you know, they're back out." -Capt. Tom Oster
"And so we have many patients who are revolving door patients. I think, you know, you might characterize them as, some of them will come back the next day, some of them will come back in a week, some of them in a year. Many of them we've seen before, you know, once or twice a year, seven or eight times a year." -Dr. James Patterson
"So what happens is John Smith, who has schizophrenia and is delusional, he's taken into the hospital and he's admitted into the hospital and they may keep him for several days and they put him on his medications and everything calms down. And John Smith does very, very well, so what ends up happening is Mr. Smith goes out, doesn't fill his medicines, and in a matter of a few days to a few weeks, he's back into his delusional, psychotic state, and somebody picks him up and brings him back in, and it's a revolving door." -Dr. Todd Thoma
"Most of the time on mental health patients, you're going to see police and you're going to see fire at that scene, and that's the thing, law enforcement is not always there when we're dealing with patients. Every call doesn't come in as, 'Hey, this person has mental health issues.' It can come in as just a regular medical call or this person's not acting right, but you know, that's the game of mental health, and it does become frustrating when you're picking that same person up every week." -Chief Reese (pictured right)
"These types of calls [mental health calls] can be volatile. The officer has to understand that anything he says, his actions, how he presents himself, can be that trigger to send that individual into a bad way, and so it's a very difficult task for officers to show up on scene and have somebody that is acting abnormal if you will, because when an officer shows up, you know, we typically have been called when everybody else has thrown their hands up and said, 'You know what? I'm done. I can't do anything with this.'" -Lt. Silva (pictured right)
"When we talk about a crisis, we're talking about access to care, access to resources, so when you don't have that, we are dealing with a crisis in this city." -Ryan Williams
"I can tell you, I've seen the demand grow tremendously since 2013. We've seen the number of people contacting us for services go up 60 percent." -William Weaver, CEO of Brentwood Hospital
"And in northwest Louisiana, always we have increased prevalence of mental illness, one of the highest in the United States. Unfortunately, we have probably the lowest available resources of anyone in the United States." -Dr. Kay Kennedy
"Behavioral health is unique within a hospital because it's a different set of patients. They are not necessarily medically ill, but they are ill." -Shun Murray, associate vice president of hospital operations for Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport
KSLA's Stacey Cameron: "Do you recall what the thought process was behind deinstitutionalization?"
"When it comes to mental health, get people out of institutions. They felt there was something inhumane about it." -Dr. Kay Kennedy
"As we deinstitutionalized the psychiatric population back in the '70s, '80s, into the '90s, we started closing down the large psychiatric hospitals or downsizing them because we wanted people to be treated in the community. Well, the idea of putting people in the community is great, but we have to have the services." -William Weaver
"This town [Shreveport], there used to be a lot more mental hospitals and mental health clinics. We have fought for a long period of time to try to get increased funding for mental health. They know the numbers are going up. I just don't think the funds are there." -Dr. Todd Thoma
"For some reason, in this particular state [Louisiana], the first thing we want to cut is education and healthcare, and those are the things, what we've ranked last in nationally, those are the things that we should be promoting. If you want to live in a happy community, you have to invest in it." -Ryan Williams
Brent Martin, the CEO of Louisiana Behavioral Health (pictured left), says the facility he runs is expanding too.
"It will eventually have 89 beds to take care of people, but even that won't fill the demand, and I'd be challenged to be completely accurate, but I would say there's hundreds of patients that are in emergency rooms every day of the week at the end of the month that are being sent out to other facilities out of the city due to bed capacity. So this is a very positive thing for us to double, if not triple the amount of bed capacity that Oschner LSU Health has available to them, to build and provide that care in this," he said.
KSLA's Stacey Cameron: "William, is there advice that you give to family members who see they have a loved one falling into a mental crisis?"
Weaver (pictured left): "Ask for help, whether that's contacting an outpatient clinic, whether that's calling the national suicide prevention hotlines. Certainly, we're here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We'll answer calls and provide information, but there's resources all over the country that people can access just to at least start talking about it to somebody outside the family, saying, 'Hey, what do I do now?'"