CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The Craighead County Sheriff's Department has new protocols for the DID statue.
This month, Craighead County Judge Ed Hill amended the original drunk, insane, disorderly or DID statue to allow law enforcement officials to hold offenders.
Sheriff Marty Boyd said the DID statue is a civil charge and is not meant to incarcerate people.
"It is not a criminal charge, and it is not meant to lock someone up just because they are causing problems," Boyd said. "This law is intended for someone who is truly having a mental health crisis."
Boyd said in some situations though the officer or deputy has no other option but to hold an offender.
"We take them into custody for their own safety and others," Boyd said. "This is our only option and best option sometimes until mental services or help can be provided."
Boyd met with Craighead County police chiefs Tuesday to make sure they know the new protocols.
"I have written some protocols for the county that we are going to follow before someone can be accepted into the Craighead County Detention Center under a DID statute," Boyd said.
Boyd told officers they must use holding at the detention center as a last option.
First, an officer must try to contact the person's family so they can take control of the situation and get the family member help.
If law enforcement cannot get in touch with a family member, they must then check to see if a mental health facility is open to help.
If the incident occurs when all mental facilities are closed, then the officer can take the offender into custody.
"We make sure that we do stress every option that is available before we do take someone into custody," Boyd said. "I will be the first to say the last thing we want to do is lock someone who has a mental problem. The last option would be to arrest that person under the statue and bring them to the detention center."
Boyd said he wants to make it clear that under the DID statute a person will only be taken into holding if they are considered dangerous.
"We want to stress that this is designed for someone who exhibits behavior where they are suicidal or possibly homicidal, where they are endangering themselves, or you feel they are endangering someone else that is where the option of arresting them would be," Boyd said.
Boyd told Region 8 News this addition to the statue should not affect the jail because those in holding will only be there until a Mid-South mental health screener can come to the jail.
He said they do not deal with enough DID cases to crowd the jail.
"One to two maybe per week if that sometimes and maybe even one or two a month that we see someone brought in under the statue," Boyd said.
Boyd said officers have been perceptive to the amendment because they want to be proactive in each situation.
"All law enforcement is on consensus that we need something at our disposal that we can use because we come in contact with people who have not broken the law, but we do feel like if we don't take custody of them or turn them over into care, then something bad could happen," Boyd said.
Boyd said this is meant to protect people with mental health issues.
"We don't want to put someone in jail who hasn't broken the law criminally but at the same time we want to protect themselves and others, and this is the only option we have at this time," Boyd said.
Boyd said a booking report will be filed stating why the person is being held.
If the mental health provider finds no need for emergency care treatment the person will be released from custody for outpatient care, and there will be no court appearance.
If treatment is necessary, the arresting agency will help with transportation to a mental health facility.
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