by Stan Morris
JONESBORO, Ark. – Every law enforcement agency in Craighead County has agreed to new protocols for the use of the drunken, insane, and disorderly statute.
Previously, the Craighead County Detention Center had been forbidden to accept inmates arrested under the DID statute, because of an April 7 Writ of Prohibition by Circuit Judge Victory Hill.
However, on June 20, Hill issued an addendum to the original writ. In it, Hill wrote his writ was “directed to the Craighead County District Court, over which this court has superintending authority, to prevent the treatment of Ark. Code Ann. 12-11-110 as a penal statute.”
“The Writ in no way prevents members of law enforcement from carrying out their duties and obligations under the clear terms of the statute,” Hill concludes the addendum with.
This came after a meeting between Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd and Hill. Boyd had
forbidden inmates from being accepted due to the language of the original writ, forbidding “incarceration” of individuals under DID. Boyd said Hill understood his concerns and issued the addendum.
Following this change, Boyd told NEA Report he worked several days on the outline for new protocols to utilize DID across the county. Tuesday, June 28, Boyd said he met with law enforcement from each agency in Craighead County.
“We discussed and I handed out the protocol list, basically a reference guide for officers to follow dealing with a circumstance of DID,” Boyd said. “Under this, it’s described as a civil charge, not a criminal charge and not to be used as such.”
Under the new protocols, law enforcement will have three options when coming into contact with someone who is a potential threat. Step one would be to find a family member to turn the subject over to who can then seek medical treatment. However, this does not always work.
“Unfortunately, a lot of time, it’s the family that calls law enforcement to get involved,” Boyd said. “It’s not always applicable.”
Step two would be followed during normal hours of operation for local mental health facilities. In that case, the subject would be taken directly to one of the local facilities to allow a screening process to take place for mental evaluation.
If no other options are available, option number three exists for those showing signs of suicidal or homicidal tendencies. In that case, Boyd said the Craighead County Detention Center will accept the subject under the DID charge. A citation will not be issued for that person. They’ll be booked into the detention center, with the officer stating why he/she is arresting that person and requesting a mental health screening.
After the screening, the jail will contact Mid-South Health Systems (contracted provider for the county). If they are found to need outpatient and not inpatient care, the person would be released from custody to seek outpatient services. If Mid-South finds there is an emergency need for inpatient treatment, Boyd said the agency who arrested the subject will then transport them to a mental health facility to receive care.
And if Mid-South finds there is no mental health crisis, that person is to be released
immediately without any court appearance.
“I think it’s the most logical step we have right now without a doubt,” Boyd said. “I am not agreeing and never will agree that mental health patients should be locked up but at the same time I say that, I believe DID was created to protect that individual or others from violent behavior. Under that circumstance, taking that person into custody until a mental health screening can take place – most of the time within 3 hours – that is the only option we have as far as law enforcement in Arkansas goes. It’s a tool and an option for us to use when we come into contact with someone showing homicidal or suicidal tendencies.”
Each law enforcement agency in Craighead County has agreed to follow these protocols, Boyd said.
“We have seen in the past someone arrested for DID walking down the road talking to themselves,” Boyd said. “I don’t think that’s what DID was intended for. If it was someone throwing rocks into cars, that’s different. It gives us the option to get someone the treatment.”