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Local News

October 22, 2013

Mental health calls on rise for Oneonta police


Brenner said it isn't uncommon for a subject to resist police action but officers aim to resolve the situation without a criminal arrest for obstruction of governmental administration. The arrests under the mental health law are considered civil actions, he said.

Subjects requiring admission for mental health issues are taken to a certified crisis center, which locally is Bassett Medical Center, Brenner said. Subjects in cases of high intoxication or requiring immediate medical attention are taken to A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta for treatment, he said.

Johns said a first responder, whether law enforcement or someone else, needs to be trained to ask proper questions and to generate the dialogue necessary to let the individual know there is hope and that help is available at a hospital, according to Johns.

“People with mental illness might appear angry, or erratic in their behavior, or even inappropriate,” Johns said. “Awareness of the possibility of a mental illness helps law enforcement on the scene to react calmly and to respond, not to the person's erratic words and behaviors, but to the situation and the person's needs.”

Responders also need training to recognize signs of drug and alcohol use and overdose to get the person help as well as minimize risks to the patient and responders, Johns said.

"Mental health training for law enforcement will also help individuals in crisis avoid the jail setting in that initial emergency when they most need a medical setting,” Johns said, “where they can then be connected to the appropriate mental health services and resources necessary for longer term help."

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