By LeaAnne Klentzman
Chickens coming home to roost … Just three short weeks ago, right here in this column mental health services, or the lack thereof, was discussed. Right here we told you there was a looming crisis. Right here we touched on the Crisis Intervention Unit lauded by Commissioners and a couple of sheriffs. Right here we told you there were problems that needed to be addressed. For the last 10 months a laissez faire attitude has permeated the leadership of this operation making the biggest victim the taxpayer, on many different levels. Hopefully with some recent leadership changes things will take flight.
After that column three weeks ago I got a call from a Commissioner who wanted to explain to me how they were working on the issue. He said he could talk to me for hours about Mental Health…but what he really wanted to say was that I didn’t understand what was in the works.
So, all ears I listened as he began to explain, “There are goals that had to be set, guidelines that must be reached,” yada, yada, yada…talk, all talk, no action! So, while our erstwhile county is playing footsies with the grant and patting themselves on the back for recreating something they allowed to be destroyed years ago … our poor first responders are swinging in the breeze. For the last two years there has been chatter of a Crisis Intervention Unit that will someday respond to mental health crisis across the county, so sayth The Grant with all its supposed goals and guidelines.
However, goals and guidelines not withstanding in just the last two weeks below are just a few examples of the 911 calls relating to mental health issues needing law enforcement, emergency medical and fire personnel:
• On October 25 a 27 year old Weston Lakes man slaughtered his parents with a sledge hammer in the front yard of their upscale home. He reportedly had a history of mental health complications. According to several on the scene, the horror they witnessed that afternoon will be with them forever.
• As the scene was clearing over in Weston Lakes that Friday evening, an inmate was discovered hanging from the neck in a supply closet. Days later he succumbed to those injuries in a local hospital. That inmate, just two days before, had recently been convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
• A few days later another collection of first responders answered a 911 call from a family seeking help with a 26 year old schizophrenic. Those officers tried to subdue the knife wielding man with a tazer, it did not work. The schizophrenic in crisis was eventually shot and killed by a responding officer.
• Then just days later, yet another crisis call for help from a father whose 17 year old son tried to take his life by jumping from the Brazos River Bridge on Texas 99/The Grand Parkway at New Territory. Even though both the Deputy Constable and the teen were hospitalized, the crisis was averted.
Averting crisis is the name of the game for first responders and their leaders. Averting those crises is also vitally important to the taxpayer. Crisis intervention can be a money pit when it goes wrong. Governmental agencies as well as individual officers up and down the chain of command can be held accountable in the courts, thus they and the taxpayer can be on the hook for millions.
So, the need for the Crisis Intervention Unit is yesterday. Yes, at the first of the month they kicked off their Unit by bringing back two former deputies who are in a patrol training phase, they both have experience, that is why they got the jobs, but now they have to be trained in Crisis Intervention…get on with it!
The CIT Unit has been in the works for nearly two years, supervisors have been trained and again we remind you of the sergeant that has been drawing a salary for this entire year and still has no policy, procedure, or guidelines ready and available for this unit. Which begs the question … what have we gotten for our money? State and Federal grants are tax money, too! It is way past time to get this party started and serve the public, not just the pocket of whatever demigod chosen to head it up. We are watching very, very closely, our community and tax dollars depend on it.
Hey Commissioners, see those chickens? They belong to you! They are that Mental Health Unit you allowed to fall by the wayside and they are here to peck up your day!.
Send questions or inquiries
to LeaAnne Klentzman
Fort Bend Star
4655 Techniplex Dr. Suite 300
Stafford Texas 77477