Posted: Oct 10, 2013 9:14 PM by Keele Smith - MTN News
Updated: Oct 11, 2013 7:47 AM
BOZEMAN - Law officers from around Montana were in Bozeman on Thursday, getting lessons on how to handle crimes caused by those with mental illness issues and Gallatin County is setting the example for crisis intervention programs.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said, "When I first took over the jail back in 2003, all we had was crisis."
A crisis situation is an event that's outside the norm for communities such as suicide attempts, family disputes or public disturbances.
At the Gallatin County Detention Center, there is a system that is working by keeping these situations from occurring.
"Now, today, we have a full time case manager, a full time mental health professional in there taking care of people before they get into crisis and then when they leave the jail, we're hooking them up with services they need," Sheriff Gootkin said. "And that's making a huge difference."
The detention center is one of the few jails in Montana that provides mental health services.
Mental health professionals are using their system as an example to show the need for mental health services in jails across the state.
State Mental Health Professional Elissa Crowe said, "We have people in the detention centers that could be a high risk to harm themselves, to harm somebody else if they do not get the care they need.
Crowe says people with mental illnesses are ending up in detention centers more often.
"I'm hoping that people will kind of get on board and actually see that this is an important population, an underserved population that has needs and they're not getting necessarily all that they need," she said.
Gootkin says officials are trying to change that because the number of people in crisis is going up.
He said, "A lot of communities don't have the resources we have. We can still help them get started and we're working on a state level to get funding and resources to Eastern, Northern Montana to get community crisis systems in place."