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Mental health, addiction treatment, officer training possible
Daily News - 6/19/2017
June 19--Officials are waiting for the approval of $2 million that would greatly improve mental health and addiction services in Onslow County, including training for law enforcement officers and a short-term addiction and mental health facility.
"The city and the county have been working on this for several months now," said Director of Public Safety Mike Yaniero.
A U.S. Department of Justice grant would offer $135,000 the first year and $151,000 the second year, Yaniero said, to focus on training for law enforcement officers in dealing with someone suffering from mental illness or addiction.
The training would consist of teaching all personnel with the Jacksonville Police Department how to deescalate situations, identifying those with needs and identifying what their needs are, and learning what services are available so they're able to offer them, Yaniero said.
"I think what it's going to do is complement what we're doing now," Yaniero said, which includes Crisis Intervention Training for his officers. "Part of this entire process is being able to identify those folks who need crisis intervention right away."
For those in need of help, the training will help officers recognize those who would benefit more from care and treatment than the criminal justice system, Yaniero said. Someone who's committed a crime but has been identified as needing addiction or mental health help would be given an option of treatment or jail.
Yaniero said he should find out within the next several months if the grant is approved and, if so, training would begin in October.
Getting a treatment center
One of the key parts in having a system that works is having a place to take someone in need of help, Yaniero said.
But there is nowhere within Onslow County to take them, which Onslow County Commissioner Robin Knapp said is a big problem.
The county and the City of Jacksonville have worked together collaboratively to find a solution and requested money from the Dorothea Dix Hospital Property Fund, Knapp said, which if approved would give Onslow County$1.8 million toward a short-term treatment center.
The senate bill has been approved, Knapp said, and all that's needed now is N.C. Governor Roy Cooper's signature.
The bill divides $19 million between six locations that the state has deemed have the highest needs, including $4 million to Vidant Health for construction of new inpatient behavioral health beds.
For Onslow County, the $1.8 million would go towards construction of "new licensed inpatient behavioral health beds at the Dix Crisis Intervention Center," according to the bill, which Knapp said is an already-standing building located behind Onslow Memorial Hospital.
The funds could only be used for what Knapp called "brick and mortar" and which the bill lists as "any renovation or building costs associated with (i) the construction of new licensed inpatient behavioral health beds, (ii) the conversion of existing inpatient acute care beds into licensed inpatient behavioral health beds, or (iii) a combination of these options."
Yaniero said he hopes to have his officers trained before the facility opens.
"I think we're moving in the right direction and I'm very optimistic," Yaniero said. "We'll be able to do much more than we're doing right now."
Knapp said getting a facility up and running is one of the priorities for the board.
"It's something that's badly needed," he said. "These things take time, but we're moving rapidly in a direction of getting a detox (and) crisis center up and running."
Reporter Amanda Thames can be reached at 910-219-8467 or Amanda.Thames@JDNews.com
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