Fairfax County, Va., police officer Michael Garbarino died yesterday, the second officer killed in a shooting rampage outside a police station last week. The Washington Post says it remains unclear why assailant Michael W. Kennedy was free to go on such a rampage. What is known “suggests that he was in desperate need of help he did not get,” the Post says in an editorial. The paper noted that “somehow, he remained sufficiently unsupervised to haul a cache of weapons to a police station and open fire.” The newspaper cites the easy availability of assault weapons and the nation’s ignorance of the needs of the mentally ill at its peril.
A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, said that 4 percent of a sample of 1,410 schizophrenics were involed in serious violence in a six-month period. Many states “make it impossibly hard to compel treatment.” An odd coalition of civil libertarians and budget hawks eager to cut services has created a situation in which people who need help yet are in no position to make informed decisions for themselves don’t get help. Then they commit crimes. The situation, says the Post, is a “cruel kind of joke: a right to exist in a delusional state and then get prosecuted severely for the damage.”