The Crawford County sheriff asked lawmakers to continue to fund crisis stabilization units in the state.
Sheriff Ron Brown spoke at a Wednesday meeting of Crawford County Intergovernmental Council about the Sebastian County Five West Crisis Stabilization Unit.
Brown told legislators or their representatives who were at the meeting in Chester that he believes it will cost between $1.2 million and $1.5 million a year each to operate the four crisis stabilization units in the state. He asked that they continue to fund the facilities.
The remaining three will be in Washington, Pulaski and Craighead counties. The facility in Sebastian County also serves Crawford, Logan, Franklin, Scott and Polk counties. The ribbon cutting was held Feb. 28.
Brown explained the unit is a facility where law enforcement officers can take those with mental health issues to stabilize them after they have been arrested for minor infractions. He also explained what would happen if Crawford County did not have this facility and did not use it, and those with mental health issues were arrested and transported to the detention center if they did not comply with law enforcement.
"So, basically, you've got somebody that's a good, productive citizen that is just a little bit off of their medication or what have you, and now they're introduced into the criminal justice system, and they cost us, the taxpayers, a lot of money," Brown said.
Brown said the idea to divert those with mental health issues to treatment facilities is just catching on.
"This is ... a concept that we're hoping kicks off," Brown said. "You know, it worked in San Antonio, Texas, it's working in Tennessee and Mississippi, and I think once, you know, we get the red tape and the bugs worked out of it, and officers are accommodated to it, we'll see a change, and I'll be honest with you, jail is not good for a person who just needs to be stabilized."
The next Crawford County Intergovernmental Council meeting will take place June 20 in Rudy.