Law enforcement supports proposed mental health crisis centers

Proposal made for mental health crisis centers

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey wants three mental health crisis centers across the state. One law enforcement official said it will help with an officer’s job tremendously.

Major J.M. Reaves is the Montgomery City Jail commander. She said sometimes people with mental illness are sent to jail or the emergency rooms instead of receiving proper treatment. The crisis centers will provide a place for people who need mental health treatment.

“It is definitely going to assist in the fight to help people with mental illness,” said Reaves. "Just to have a resource that is readily available for somebody in that kind of situation is going to make a tremendous impact in folks who suffer from mental illness that come in contact with first responders.”

Reaves said law enforcement is in contact with people nearly every day who need mental health treatment. At times, she has seen 12 people who need treatment in jail and many times they are there for weeks before a bed opens up at a mental health center.

“If we had something like that, it would definitely alleviate the time that it takes to actually do what we can to try and assist somebody when we encounter them," she said.

The Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Lynn Beshear requested $18 million in grants for the crisis centers. State lawmakers still need to decide how much money they will allot for it.

“They know the person is sick. But there’s no place to for them to receive care and so often they will have to charge them with a low level of finance so that they can take them to jail for income for their own protection," Beshear said.

The department held meetings across the state to determine the type of resources regions need. The department will begin the RFP process. The commissioner said she hopes they can announce the groups who will receive the grants in July.

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.