Learn first aid for mental illness | July 7, commentary
Support training that saves lives
Thank you, Tampa Bay Times and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for bringing attention to mental health first aid and crisis intervention team training. Combined, these two programs are literally lifesaving endeavors to people coping with mental illness.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police recommends the basic eight-hour law enforcement version of mental health first aid for most first responder law enforcement officers. The association endorses the more intensive 40-hour crisis intervention team course for about 20 percent of a patrol force, creating an elite and educated "team" with expertise to respond to mental health crises.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness/Pinellas introduced this crisis training to Florida in 1999. Since then, more than 2,000 people have received the training in Pinellas County alone, with another 20,000 across Florida.
In addition, Florida Highway Patrol troopers regularly attend this training, continuously patrol the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, a notorious suicide site, and frequently rescue emotionally disturbed people.
The weeklong crisis intervention course is presented to law enforcers at no cost to the departments or taxpayers. Everyone involved in the organization and presentation of the course are participants of the Mental Health/Substance Abuse Coalition, a Community Partnership comprised of volunteers from law enforcement, mental health providers and advocates committed to the continued success of this training.
Donald Turnbaugh, Palm Harbor
The writer is a founding board member of CIT International Inc.
Florida right to refuse some voter data July 9, editorial
States act as safeguard
More than 40 states have refused to fully comply with Donald Trump's voter information requests. One of the strengths of our system is its decentralized nature. This helped to prevent the Russians from compromising our election. Currently, the administration's election campaign is being investigated for possible collusion with the country accused of meddling in our election. That same administration wants all the states to centralize data in a computer to be managed by a staffer of the vice president. What could possibly go wrong?
Michael Hughes, Dunedin
Wasting taxpayers' money
I am concerned not just about the privacy issues involved, but also about the cost of this wild goose chase. Our tax money has far better uses than to try to help President Donald Trump prove, despite no evidence, that he had a higher vote count than Hillary Clinton.
I suspect that this goal is also behind his efforts to deny, or at least downplay, Russia's role in his election. He can't publicly contemplate his win being a result of Russian meddling rather than his own wonderfulness.
Diana Kelley, Tampa
Vigil honors man killed at power plant July 10
Better ways than balloons
My heart ached to read that lives were lost in the accident at the TECO plant. My sincere sympathies to those whose loved ones were involved. However, I mourned equally to see the picture of the family and friends of Frank Lee Jones release not one but two rounds of balloons into the air to "celebrate" his life, a life cut too short to be sure.
This is addressed to everyone who considers releasing balloons as a "celebration" of life. Releasing balloons cuts short the lives of birds and marine life who ingest portions of the balloons, get tangled in the strings, or have their habitat fouled by the balloons as they litter and sink. Releasing balloons is deadly for the environment. Plant a tree, make a contribution to a charity. Gather together to laugh, pray, celebrate the life — but please don't release balloons thinking it's the right thing to do. The Earth and its fragile creatures will thank you.
Heidi Hagedorn Sumner, St. Petersburg
Trump and Putin meet at last | July 8
Russia is not an ally
Why does President Donald Trump keep giving in to Russian President Vladimir Putin? Russia is our enemy. During World War II we were allies in the war against Hitler and Nazi Germany. But since then, every president has seen Russia as an enemy. President Kennedy, President Nixon, Democrats and Republicans — all of them, right down to President Obama. And the vast majority of Americans share the opinion.
Why does Trump take the word of the former director of the Russian KGB over that of his American national security officials? Some say it is to protect his family business interests in that country. Could that be? Would a president of the United Staters put his personal interests above the interests of America?
Mortimer Brown, Lutz
How a war helped grouper catch on | July 9, Perspective
Remembering another era
In this article describing how grouper came to be so popular, it mentioned that in the 1950s green turtle steak was a popular item on menus at many restaurants in the Tampa Bay area. That brought back memories from my childhood when my parents would take me to Ted Peters restaurant in South Pasadena. Although I don't remember them serving sea turtle, the lot on the south side was used on occasion as a place for turtle fishermen to deposit their catch until they could be picked up for processing the meat.
There would be a dozen or so live turtles on their backs and an old man hosing them with water. Using a thick wooden pole, he kept them from flipping over and crawling off before the processing truck got there. I was only 10 at the time, so I had no idea of the gravity of what I was witnessing. It was just interesting to watch as we ate our smoked mullet. I can't even imagine how many of these beautiful creatures were destroyed during that time.
Bob Dalzell, St. Petersburg