In response to “Maine Voices: Mental illness should not be answered with police use of force” (Sept. 25), by Madison Raymond:

On Jan. 12, 2001, an 88-year-old retired educator was kicked to death in a supermarket parking lot in Portland. He was so badly beaten that dental records were required to identify him.

On Aug. 19, 2015, a woman’s throat was slit in a supermarket in Saco. She died at the scene.

I am certain these and other incidents like them were on the minds of the officers confronted with a disturbed man with what appeared to be a rifle in a crowded parking lot. The fact that it “turned out to be a pellet gun” is irrelevant. No one but the disturbed man knew or could have known that at the time. The job of the Portland police is to serve and protect, and they did exactly that on that sad day.

There is a crisis of mental health treatment in Maine; it is not the fault of the police, yet they bear the consequences.

The statement “if they intend to keep utilizing lethal force as their main method of crisis negotiation and de-escalation” is an outrageous falsehood. There are thousands of peaceful de-escalations by Portland police every year. But de-escalation requires two minimally rational parties to succeed.

For Madison Raymond to conflate a byzantine discussion of gender identity with dealing with the violently mentally ill is just bizarre. It doesn’t pass a basic common-sense test.

Jonathan Matt

South Portland

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