530 transported for mental aid in 2021; currently on average two calls per day
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – TThe Warren County Sheriff’s Office says emergency medical transports have increased in recent years as the area’s homeless population increases.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office is working hard to transform the way it serves people with mental illness in the community.
Sheriff Brett Hightower says that historically, deputies have treated people with mental illness like any other call for illegal activity that can lead to unnecessary violence.
“For anyone who’s been through this, it can be a very tiring process,” Hightower described in response to emergency medical dispatch calls. “You know, the tip of the spear is the deputy responding. How they react to that person is extremely valuable.
Through Crisis Prevention Institute training, learning de-escalation techniques, and learning with LifeSkills here in Bowling Green, a third of Hightower’s assistants are trained to deal with crisis situations. emergency.
life skills Director of Community Engagement, Melanie Watts, said: “You know, we want to treat everyone the way you want to be treated. And certainly if it’s a member of our family in the back of that police cruiser, we want them to be treated very well.
Last year, WCSO deputies transported 530 people to Western State Hospital after LifeSkills-certified licensed clinicians were dangerous to themselves and others.
Hightower says the de-escalation training worked before his own eyes. However, the sheriff’s office transports an average of two people a day to Western State Hospital…about 60% of those people multiple times.
“For thirty years, sheriffs have been asking for help with additional funding for these issues,” Hightower said. “It falls on deaf ears. As our population continues to grow, I would venture to say that these problems will also increase.
Watts said, “My dream would be for the state to start investing money in the communities so that the communities can deal with these issues directly and not have to take someone to West State. [Hospital] to stabilize them.
While Watts and Hightower agree that the long-term goal is to get state funding and help in other areas, for now Hightower’s game plan is to train 100% of his deputies to help people who are fighting these internal battles, hoping to plant the seeds that will lead to change.