BEND, OR -- Local jail officials say too many people with mental health problems are filling their cells. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says Sheriff Shane Nelson has been working on a potential solution.
During a recent talk with the League of Women Voters, he explained the idea behind a drop off site: "What if a loved one could bring their son or daughter to a center that's not a secure facility - the person doesn't have to be there but it's trained professionals. Law enforcement is there, if something gets out of control. But, it's a place you can drop off and leave them for a day or two." He adds, "It's voluntary and paid for by the community - you don't have to pay an entry fee. Just a cooling off period so the loved ones can have some time on their own and this person can get the help they need to talk to someone. There's a site that's been identified, just a few days ago. This is really neat; it's just in the beginning steps."
Hummel says this type of center could reduce the number of mentally ill in local jails, and give families another option aside from calling 911. Other communities have similar sites for those who are drunk or high and need to detox, but haven't committed a crime.