City Councilor Michael Flaherty says that the case of a man charged with threatening him and his campaign staff and injuring two Boston police officers highlights Boston's needs for better mental-health care - and that he hopes that, this time, the man can get the care he needs.
In a statement on his Facebook page, the at-large councilor says the man, John Donovan, "has terrorized people in my neighborhood for years, resulting in many restraining orders," and that his case shows the failings of the current mental-health care system for dealing with violent people with mental problems.
This incident is another testament to how critical access to adequate mental health services is. Mental health issues are complex and there is no one solution; which is why as a City, we need to do a better job of meeting people where they are at with mental health disorders. We need to ensure that anyone who needs access to mental health services has immediate access to a robust, full spectrum of care.
Given the severity of the situation, I am calling upon the Suffolk County District Attorney's office to take this matter seriously--this is not an isolated case of a someone having a bad day.
Unfortunately, traditional methods have not yielded any positive results for this man. He may be a perfect candidate for the Boston Mental Health Court. The Boston Mental Health Court includes a court-imposed condition of probation for defendants who have serious mental illness or co-occurring mental health or substance use disorder. The sessions provide an alternative to incarceration by providing defendants access to case managers and a comprehensive variety of community-based services such as intensive social services, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment where appropriate, and other wrap-around services that help defendants achieve stability, avoid recidivism, and as a result, increase public safety for our residents.
I'd like to stress that there are families impacted on all sides of this incident. We need to work collectively to ensure that those who are suffering from mental health disorders have the care they need to prevent incidents like this from happening again. My prayers to him and his family.
Flaherty also praised Boston Housing Police and Boston police officers for "de-escalating what could have been a very tragic situation, and said he hopes the officers injured in arresting him make a fast and full recovery.