I just read this article about a 24-year-old woman, Mitrice Richardson, who’s been missing from Los Angeles County, California for over two months. She was arrested on minor charges, booked and released. It was the middle of the night by then, and she had no transportation, no money and no way to contact anyone. The police offered to let her spend the night at the jail, but she said she wanted to leave. She didn’t appear to be a danger to herself or others, or mentally incompetent, so they let her go. And she vanished.
The author of this editorial blames the police for Mitrice’s disappearance, claiming they lacked “compassion” and shouldn’t have released the woman when they knew she had no way to go home. (Other sources claim she was “acting crazy” on the night of her disappearance and claimed she was from Mars, suggesting she was having some kind of episode. There have also been accusations of racism; Mitrice is black.) From what I have read about this thus far, I don’t see it that way. The police offered to help her by letting her spend the night in an empty cell. She turned them down. What were they supposed to do then, force her to stay? If they had kept her against her will, they could have faced a lawsuit for false imprisonment. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Of course, Mitrice’s disappearance is tragic. All disappearances are. But I don’t think the cops could have reasonably done more than they did. Thoughts, anyone?
More info on Mitrice:
Her family’s website for her
Los Angeles Sentinel article (which also blames the cops and claims Mitrice was drunk when she released)