New Mental Health Assessment Center Will Impact Local Law Enforcement

Lynchburg, VA- The new mental health assessment center will have a direct impact on law enforcement.

Since the laws recently changed to make emergency custody orders go from four hours to eight, it has taken a toll on local law enforcement agencies like the Campbell County Sheriff's Office. They say they deal with an average of one to two ECO's a week which can take an officer away from his patrol area for his entire shift.

Now they're happy to hear this new assessment site will be staffed with crisis intervention team officers. That means patrol offers can drop off ECO patients and get back to making the streets safer.

This new assessment site will be open to the entire region. That is Amherst, Bedford, Campbell, and Appomattox County, plus townships, colleges, and universities with police departments ; a total of 11 agencies. It will have three rooms for screening patients quickly and efficiently. From there, they'll determine if the patient needs to be taken to a psychiatric facility.

The officers staffed at the site will be off-duty, so it will be a part-time job for them. Campbell County Sheriff Steve Hutcherson says it is common for officers to work two jobs, so he expects there to be lots of interest. The jobs will be open to CIT trained officers in all agencies, and hospital security officers will be trained for back-up. Hutcherson says having this site will help in a big way.

As far as who is paying for it, Tim Paul, the CIT Training Officer Coordinator, says a state grant is funding the officers initially. He hopes to get more funding from the state, and other grant sources. He also says Centra has committed to some ongoing funding to help make this site run smoothly.

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