In part three of our four part series, “Officer James Catlin: A Life of Valor,” is a ride along in which he has multiple calls for substance abuse of both illegal street drugs such as meth and legally written prescription medications.
Sadly, suicide rates have increased in a state that already has the third highest rate in the country.
On one of the calls, Officer Catlin meets Billings Fire and ambulance for an attempted suicide using an overdose of hand sanitizer and Ambien.
He and the other emergency team members enter a home filled with children’s toys in a nice neighborhood. It’s an indication that societal problems and emotional troubles run deeply and insidiously. The police often intervene as the first call for mental health or protection in domestic violence abuse cases.
The next call was on a meth addict known to the police department for long-term use.
There has been 124% increase in meth related crime since 2014 including theft, child abuse, and human trafficking.
Meth is intrinsically tied to crime and violence in Montana; 68% of child home removals involve parental drug use; 65% list meth as the primary drug of abuse.
Almost 50% of open child welfare cases that remove and place children in foster care are parents who are addicted to meth.
When I decided to take an inside look at a police officer’s day, I hadn’t decided on a series title. After spending just a few hours in the cruiser the word “valor” came clearly to me. It feels as if you are at war and no matter what the enemy does or thinks, you have to chose the higher ethical and moral stance. And, that is who Officer Catlin is as a person.
When I asked him how he stays emotionally, mentally and physically strong, Officer Catlin replied, “It’s the job I signed up for. I’m here to help and protect and I take pride in it.”