The Texas legislature recently passed a law that would allow counties to create separate diversion courts for certain police officers and other first responders. The courts would only be usable when an officer or other first responder commits a crime for which job-related mental illness could be to blame.
The law was inspired by similar laws that create separate courts for veterans suffering conditions like PTSD. It flew through the legislature, partially in part due to last year’s mass shooting of police officers in Dallas. But some county judges and experts say that there is no need for these diversion courts.
Pros and Cons of Special Courts for Cops
There is one glaringly obvious potential downside of the law. In counties that adopt the measure, first-responders and police will be treated differently under the law. It would contribute to the idea that police are above the law. That idea can lead to police brutality and misconduct as well as hurting the perception of cops in local communities.
On the flip side, it would help first-responders suffering from mental illness to rehabilitate and return to society, rather than throwing them into a criminal justice system where mental health needs are not always addressed the way that they should be.
What do you think? Should first responders who suffer job-related mental trauma be allowed to be tried for crimes in separate courts? Or does this qualify as special treatment that is unfair to others who may also be suffering from mental illness? Sound off in the comments.