Stepping Up Initiative discusses CIT, mental health advocate

By Faith Bemiss - [email protected]

The creation of a Pettis County Mental Health Advocate and the newly formed West Central Missouri Crisis Intervention Team Council were two of several topics discussed at the monthly Monthly Stepping Up Initiative meeting Thursday.

Monthly meetings are hosted at the Thompson Conference Center inside the Heckart Science and Allied Health Center at State Fair Community College.

Sedalia Police Department Officer Mark Cherry, also chair of the CIT subcommittee, reported that a grant proposal had been submitted to the Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare in Jefferson City.

Cherry said several weeks ago the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office and SPD sat down and worked out ideas for a grant request. Sheriff Kevin Bond wrote the grant proposal.

“It’s in the process of being approved now,” Cherry added. “That grant is going to go for more CIT training. We requested five additional officers at the police department.”

“So, we are talking about eventually setting up the training here locally,” Bond added.

He noted that at present they need more Peace Officer Standards and Training Program or POST certified instructors to go forward with the plan.

“We are going to have to send officers to instructor school so they will be eligible to get POST certification,” he added. “There will be classes later on this fall that we will designate officers to and then hopefully we be able to start up a (CIT) class sometime in the summer of next year.”

Bond added that one of things the CIT Council requires is “active interaction between mental health and other service providers.”

“We already have that with the Stepping Up Initiative, so really everything is all there we just need to put it down on paper,” Bond said.

Cherry also noted that he’d received “good” information and also some references for “warm lines.” He explained that rather than going to a hotline immediately, warm lines are more of an intermediate type of help in a mental health crisis situation.

Cherry gave an account of a man who had mental health issues recently.

“There’s a gentleman I’ve been dealing with for awhile,” he added. “He lost his parents about eight or 10 years ago. He was a truck driver and he went to stay with them. Then he lost them, that was his downfall from there.”

Cherry said the man called him and he ended up going down to the Pettis County Courthouse.

“He had a warrant, but he needed to go to the hospital first,” Cherry said.

The man was on medication that had not been check for some time and he was extremely ill.

“They treated him and after that was done they took him over for his warrant,” he noted. “He has no means of transportation, but team effort got him volunteering out at the animal shelter. He doesn’t get along with people, but he loves animals.”

Cherry also said the SPD evidence custodian found a bike for the man to ride.

Bond commented that multiple agencies often deal with the same person.

“That’s why this Stepping Up Initiative is so important,” he noted. “Whether it’s children or adults or senior citizens or through the court system, this is a multi-faceted issue. It’s not just a jail issue, it’s an entire community issue.”

Terry Beas, spokesman for JoAnn Martin, chair of the boundary spanner position, said Martin had written a proposed job description for a Pettis County Mental Health Coordinator.

Beas also noted that Martin had mailed out requests for information to many of the mental health care agencies in the community and hoped to have them returned by Aug. 1. He expressed that Martin wished them to “answer honestly” about their capacity for taking in people with mental health issues in an immediate manner.

Often many mental health issues need an immediate appointment, not appointments weeks away.

“When CIT works with them, they need somebody now,” he noted. ”They don’t need to wait three or four weeks when things have gotten a lot worse for everybody.”

Also in discussion among the group was how the person in the proposed job description would work through his or her role. Many wanted to call the position by another title. A suggestion was made to call the position the Pettis County Mental Health Advocate.

Pettis County Associate Circuit Judge, Division 6, Paul Beard, chair for court diversion subcommittee, gave an update.

“We’ve been meeting and we’ve been trying to work out the details … A person gets referred into the program either by a community health agent or law enforcement or prosecuting attorney or part of a judge’s probation,” he said.

Beard said they have been observing what other areas have used in their programs and are adopting those concepts for Pettis County.

“What I was hoping to do was to talk about some of the ideas and see if there is any agencies who could be tapped into to provide these resources,” he added.

He asked if there was an agency assigned for those in the court diversion program who might need home visits or those who need to report weekly to a caseworker. Bond said there isn’t, but the Pettis County Mental Health Advocate was the position they were trying to establish for these needs.

Denise Woolery, chair of the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) subcommittee, said several people plan to attend training in August. A local NAMI chapter start-up will follow in early fall.

By Faith Bemiss

[email protected]

Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.

Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.

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