Last night, after Bill left for his TDY to Bavaria, I was left watching YouTube videos. Because I felt a cold coming on, and my stomach was bugging me, I decided to eat some bland leftovers and drink sparkling water. Then, once it got respectably late, I figured I’d go to bed.
Because of the nature of the videos I ended up watching, my mind started wandering to dark places. When you watch a lot of cop videos, you see people in varying states of mental, emotional, and physical distress. Some cops are really good at helping people in crisis. They treat people with basic respect and decency. Some are even kind and empathic. Other cops are rude, dismissive, or just plain mean.
I watched one video last night that I had seen before. It involved a police officer named John Kovach, Jr. from Lorain, Ohio, whose 18 year old daughter, Katlyn, was dating a guy he didn’t like. Katlyn’s boyfriend, at least circa spring 2018, was Makai Coleman. Because her dad didn’t want his daughter dating Coleman, and Katlyn was by then a legal adult, she decided to leave the family home and stay with friends. She refused to speak to her dad, which was her legal right.
Below is the video of the subsequent confrontation that got John Kovach, Jr. fired from his long held job with the Lorain Police Department. I’m sure it also didn’t do much for his relationship with his daughter, at least in 2018. I don’t know if they’ve mended fences since then.
One of the many troubling things Kovach said as he started to arrest Coleman, for no apparent reason, is that he’d be “making shit up” about Coleman’s “charges” as they headed to jail. But then, once he saw his daughter hiding in the back of Coleman’s car, John Kovach, Jr. decided to turn Coleman loose and force Katlyn into his police car. Clearly, it was inappropriate, as Katlyn is his daughter, and he’s not exactly objective about this situation.
But as John Kovach, Jr. was making his adult daughter get in the back of the squad car, he justified “arresting” Katlyn, because he claimed she was “suicidal”. He said she’d made a comment indicating suicidal ideation the day prior. Katlyn, who was by then screaming and crying, reminded him that he wasn’t with her the day prior, as she had rightly escaped his home to be with more rational people.
According to an article by the Washington Post:
Kovach said that when he spoke with his daughter on the phone, she said, “If I can’t be with him, I don’t want to be here anymore.” He told investigators that he believed his daughter was threatening suicide.
Kovach said he intended to take Katlyn to the hospital for a “psychiatric evaluation”, since she was “suicidal”… which she obviously wasn’t. He just wanted to exert control over her. There were other claims made about how Kovach had threatened to make Makai Coleman’s life difficult. The young man had wanted to join the military, and Kovach said he’d be talking to the lad’s recruiter and otherwise abuse his authority to threaten and harass Coleman.
The way Kovach behaved on that day in 2018, though, was totally beyond the pale. Soon, he’d gone from overprotective father to abusive cop. It was absolutely right that he was fired from his job for behaving in such an unhinged way. Kovach also harassed Coleman’s sister and mother, threatening them with jail and fines for trying to intervene. Meanwhile, Katlyn was screaming and crying, while her father went into creepy control freak mode, barking at her to “knock it off.” I don’t know if he actually took her to the hospital, but it seems like it would have been a real waste of time and resources on many levels.
After I watched that video, I started thinking about life in Germany, wondering if the Kovach family drama might ever happen here. Then I started Googling. I already noticed on YouTube, watching any video that mentions the word “suicide” prompts a notice in German– “Du bist nicht allein…” (you are not alone). Yeah, you can say that again. Big brother is always watching!
I’m kidding, kinda. I mean, it’s good that they have resources for dealing with people who are mentally or emotionally shaky. The YouTube prompt was a link to a page where there are volunteers standing by, willing to talk to someone who feels alone, either by phone or chat. That’s a good thing… although it does kind of lead one to wonder why someone would do that in their free time. I know there are caring and kind people out there who do it because they genuinely want to help people. Those people save lives. But then there are also people like Ted Bundy, who answered suicide hotlines for awhile before he became a notorious serial killer. Ted Bundy reportedly did save some people from offing themselves. He even worked on the suicide hotline with the late true crime author, Ann Rule, who later wrote an excellent book about him. She verified that he ended some lives, but he also saved some.
One thing I do think is enlightened about the German hotlines is that they don’t just address the suicidal. They have nine hotlines that are designed to address a host of issues, everything from abuse to supporting others who need help. They even have a dedicated help line for Muslims.
I got more curious about this topic as the evening wore on… remember I did study this stuff in school, sorta. So I dug a little deeper, and soon found myself on Toytown Germany (a discussion site for English speakers in Germany). In 2006, someone had posted about a someone they knew who had attempted suicide. The person went to an emergency room, was treated for a couple of days, then released. The original poster was shocked, but other people soon chimed in on the subject– some of whom were shockingly insensitive. One person said that they knew someone who had spiked his vodka with dishwasher tablets. The guy was similarly treated and released. The Americans on the forum were saying that in the United States, the person would get a 72 hour hold at least.
Some people were making ignorant comments about suicide and suicidal threats. Realizing that the thread was started in 2006, I realized that things have only gotten worse since then. People are pretty jaded these days. Then someone mentioned that an attempt would probably warrant a “stay at Haar”. That made me curious, so I went searching for information on that.
I discovered that Haar is a psychiatric clinic near Munich, and it gets pretty horrible reviews on Google. I’m sure there are other psych hospitals in Germany. Maybe some of them are helpful… but then, you have to consider the source of such reviews. They’re typically written by people who are in crisis and the crisis isn’t necessarily solved by a stay in a hospital. In some ways, it may get even worse after medical and psychiatric “help”, especially if one ends up with a doctor who is an insensitive asshole or something. On the other hand, I realize that it’s not easy for providers, either. Mentally ill people can be very challenging to deal with, especially when they are non-compliant or apathetic. Mental health providers are human, too… and sometimes, that kind of work can lead to burnout.
Actually, watching YouTube videos of American cops and paramedics is a pretty good study in burnout. I’m sure a lot of people initially decide to go into police work or emergency services because they are kind and caring, and just want to help. Some people want to feel useful or powerful… or they want to make a difference somehow. Some of those folks never tire of the work or become insensitive or impatient.
On the other hand, some people do that work simply because it’s a job and there’s always a need. I think of the man who worked as an emergency medical technician in Brooklyn, New York and hit my friend, Matt, with a borrowed Rolls Royce. Matt died of his injuries, and the so-called paramedic never even stopped to render the most basic of aid. He just let him die, while he sped off in the luxury car. This man was an EMT, but he didn’t care about Matt. Now he’s in jail, but he’ll be out before Christmas. Matt, on the other hand, is gone forever.
That’s another things I’ve noticed, too… A lot of people, at least in the United States, act like total barbarians when they get arrested. Some of them do go to prison for a long time. Others, in spite of being totally awful, get their charges dropped or a slap on the wrist. It seems to me that involvement with the police is kind of the same as involvement with hospitals. You never know what you’re going to end up paying in the long run. It depends on who you are, what your coverage is, and which state you’re in when the event happens. You can go to an emergency department and get charged varying amounts, since there’s no regulation of fees. And you can get arrested and end up with any number of penalties, depending on the cop or the jurisdiction… or, again… who you are.
Anyway… this was just one of the darker rabbit holes I’ve been down. Unfortunately, I’m in kind of a bad mood today. I caught a cold somewhere over the weekend, plus my stomach hurts. I’m sitting here with a runny nose, scratchy throat, and a dull ache in my gut, wondering if I may need to call for help myself, at some point. But my guess is that I’ll just be grouchy and thirsty, as I always am when I catch a cold. I think I’ll close today’s post and get on with the day, so I can go back to bed. I’ve got to walk Noyzi and practice guitar before it’ll be time to fall back down the emergency services abyss and see what else I can dig up to discuss. 😉