When all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. In the national government, the hammer is the military. Congressmen, Senators, candidates for office, all agree that problems can be solved by sending in troops. In local government, the police are expected to solve all the problems.
Last Saturday morning, around 5 a.m., the problems of James Boulware were handled by the police in the usual way. The Dallas police shot Boulware to death using military-style combat weapons, including a 50 caliber sniper rifle that they used to penetrate the armor of Boulware's Ford van. The police also had highly sophisticated bomb-detection devices which they used to detonate a makeshift bomb near police headquarters and to search Boulware's van for explosives.
That was the end of the story, but it was not the beginning. All of Boulware's family knew of his problems, as did the family services judge, Kim Cooks, who had granted custody of Boulware's young son to the boy's grandmother earlier in the week. Judge Cooks claimed to have received multiple threats from Bulware. The man was scary, she said in a CNN video interview, and she believed he would eventually attack her.
According to a Dallas Morning News report, Boulware attacked his mother and uncle in 2013. At that time, he threatened a shooting spree at schools and was heading for a cache of weapons when he was arrested. He was later released without being tried. These may have been the weapons he used in the Dallas shooting.
In 2007 the state of Texas spent $550 per capita on police, courts, and prisons. This is the hammer it uses against mentally ill people like James Boulware. There are other tools they could use, social workers, psychiatrists, outreach workers. In 2015 the state of Texas spent $40.65 per capita on mental health services, less than a tenth as much as it spends on police.
James Boulware was a mental health problem, not a police problem, up until the time he started shooting at the Dallas police department on Saturday morning. Dallas apparently did not have the ability to deal with him. In a CNN interview after he learned of his son's death, Boulware's father put it succinctly and emotionally: "Where does a white male get help?"
The father implied that someone else, probably a black man, could have gotten help. The politicians do play that blame game. The father blamed liberals for making the laws. He implicitly blamed blacks for receiving help that should have been given to his son. Neither belief is correct. The father could have stated more accurately, "Where does anyone get help in Texas?"
The state of Texas has a completely inadequate mental health program, but they do have an expensive hammer, the police, and they solved their problem with James Boulware in the usual way, by shooting him to death.
Suspect Mug Shot from Dallas County Sheriff’s Office that matches name given to police – James BoulwareWoulwar