Sheriff's office a step closer to having mental health facility

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - After years of trying to get a crisis stabilization unit in Craighead County, the Craighead County Sheriff's Office is one step closer to making that a reality.

"Right now the state has issued an application for counties interested in partnering with them to start the crisis intervention unit," said Sheriff Marty Boyd. "It is something we have worked hard on for the last three years."

Boyd said they have seen a need for getting people experiencing mental health issues help rather than putting people in jail.

"This gives them the option so they can receive some treatment instead of going through our system," said Boyd.

After Governor Asa Hutchinson allotted $5 million to upstart three of these mental health facilities in Arkansas, Boyd said they have the opportunity to get $1.6 million if the state grants them the facility.

Boyd said having this unit in Craighead County is not only a great place to serve all Northeast Arkansas, but that many agree that it is the most feasible.

"We have spent thousands of dollars and man hours trying to transport people to Little Rock and Benton because that is the only beds we have for mental health patients," said Boyd. "This will be great savings for the county."

Boyd said they also plan to partner with Mid-South Health Systems through this process.

"They have been a great help to us this entire time and they will be an even greater partner if we are able to get one here," said Boyd.

Boyd said they have been hard at work on the application for the facility which came on June 15.

"Things that we have to fill out is the location where we plan to put it, how we plan to build it," said Boyd. "The need for services. We keep stats of how many people we have screened for mental health issues. The type of care we expect to provide. Things like that."

Right now, Boyd said they have been looking at different places but it is still too early to decide an exact location.

"We are looking at what is most cost sufficient," said Boyd. "Do we need to build a whole building from scratch or would it be cheaper to renovate an already existing building?"

In the end, Boyd said this is a huge step for law enforcement to be able to relieve the problems they have seen.

"We have been deemed over the years taking care of those with mental health issues," said Boyd. "I think it is unfair because we are not trained to do that. It is not our job but to have a unit like this where someone will be able to tend to people with mental health issues after working so long is very exciting."

The Craighead County Quorum Court is set to discuss a resolution in support of bringing a crisis stabilization unit to Northeast Arkansas in their next meeting.

The state applications for the facility are due June 30.

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