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January 17, 2018 - 1:22pm

Sheriff planning program to train deputies on dealing with people with mental health issues

posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, news, law enforcement.

Increasingly, police officers must deal with people who have mental health issues, so to help them do their jobs better, Sheriff William Sheron is seeking additional training for his deputies.

Sheron, along with Undersheriff Greg Walker, a sergeant, and a deputy chief, will meet with officials from the Mental Health Association next week to kick off a training program.

The goal is to have all the deputies receive some training and have several deputies on each shift who are part of a crisis intervention team.

Part of the program, Sheron told members of the Public Service Committee yesterday, will be identifying what resources are currently available and what services are missing or deficient.

One goal is to help reduce the number people with mental health issues who wind up in the jail.

Former Sheriff Gary Maha, now a legislator and member of the committee, said he certainly understands the need for the program.

"Sometimes we end up putting them in jail because we don’t know what else to do with them sometimes when it's only minor charges," Maha said. "If there is a way to steer a person to an option other than going to jail it’s certainly beneficial to all of us."

Sheron anticipates grant money being available for the training, especially for the crisis intervention team, so he will be coming back to the Public Service Committee at a later date with a request to accept such a grant.

david spaulding
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.... Richard Metcalf .......

Kyle Slocum
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This is an issue that has been known to us for a long time. The front line of mental health problems has been law enforcement for as long as I can remember. When a person who is, or has been, in care starts to act out the police are called.

The police don't have any way to know who the person's doctor or mental health care provider is. And no way to contact them in the middle of the night if they can discern that information.

What might be resolved by a simple contact with the provider to explain the issue so that adjustment of medication or increased levels of monitoring of behavior can be used to help the individual thus becomes an arrest and bail to safeguard the individual and protect those impacted by the behavior.

The provider may never even find out that there is an ongoing issue until things get very bad for the subject and the community. They may only find out from reading a story here.

If the Sheriff can force change in this regard, both patients and the community will be well served. But the key is not just training law enforcement: It is setting up a system so that providers can be immediately notified of issues so they can help address them.

Frank Bartholomew
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Kyle ,nice post,and unfortunatley,I just got a real insight to the problems facing the jail,and the officers.Real complex issues at hand,and never really any good answers,hopefully this will benefit the officers and inmates.

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