Prescott AZ (October 23, 2017) – The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office continues to provide leadership statewide by innovative approaches regarding mental illness issues within the criminal justice system. The resulting goal is to reduce incarceration where possible and provide alternative treatment options. Recent recognition of YCSO’s efforts by leadership in the mental health field is highlighted below.
On Friday, October 13, 2017, a Mental Health Summit, organized by the Mental Health Coalition Verde Valley, was held at the Cliff Castle Casino Hotel in Camp Verde. The focus of the summit was a discussion of ‘Innovation, Technology and the Future of Mental Health Therapy. As part of the luncheon, the first Mental Health Coalition Verde Valley 2017 Innovation Awards were presented to 4 recipients. Sheriff Scott Mascher accepted the award for establishing the Behavioral Health Unit at the Camp Verde Jail and the accompanying services that prepare individuals to return to the community. This critical function within the detention center provides access to resources for those in need of mental health care resulting in the long term goal of reducing recidivism.
On August 24th and 25th, David’s Hope, a non-profit Mental Health Criminal Justice Advocacy Coalition (http://davidshopeaz.org/), held their second annual Mental Health Criminal Justice Summit. The summit took place in Tempe, Arizona and featured an awards dinner on Thursday, August 24th, honoring several key players throughout the State including Sheriff Mascher and Chief Deputy Rhodes.
The presentation to Sheriff Mascher included the following comments –
In 2014, Sheriff Mascher created the Yavapai County Mental Health Criminal Justice and Community Coalition. The Sheriff partnered with Judge Hancock at the Yavapai County Superior Court, County Attorney Shelia Polk, then public defender John Napper, and a diverse group of county leaders and community members, and they began to cobble together a system to serve people living with mental illness.
Sheriff Mascher has created understanding in the community, recognizing that the first contact people with serious undiagnosed mental health issues often have is with a police officer, who may have some training in the area, but not a high level of standardized consistent training. Now, the Sheriff’s Office has made training of officers a priority. Sheriff Mascher has stated that if we, as law enforcement officers, respond to a call for service while identifying mental illness, stabilize the situation and divert rather than take them to jail, that is our preference. Jail should be a last resort. For those who are incarcerated, Sheriff Mascher created a safe and efficient mental health unit in the Yavapai County Jail. Here, inmates receive support and are linked to treatment services. The Sheriff’s work has become a model for the region.
David’s Hope is honored to present our 2017 Crisis Response Officer of Distinction Award to Sheriff Scott Mascher.
The presentation to Chief Rhodes included the following comments:
Chief Rhodes, assigned by Sheriff Mascher to chair the Yavapai County Mental Health Criminal Justice and Community Coalition, has created a broad reaching effort which is providing significant opportunities to move forward several identified goals including; supporting law enforcement response programs, mental health courts, pre-trial services diversion/alternative prosecution and sentencing programs, treatment accountability services, specialized training for law enforcement and detention officers and reentry services to create or expand mental illness/substance use disorders support.
Chief Rhodes has led YCSO’s innovative training program for 1st responders – ‘Mental Health First Aid.’ Personnel will be trained to recognize the presence of mental health issues and how to interact with detainees exhibiting a mental illness. The project also requires that an inmate is screened by the Public Defender’s Office within 72 hours of booking, to identify persons needing mental health support.
David’s Hope is honored to present the 2017 Crisis Response Officer of Distinction Award to Chief Deputy David Rhodes.
Sheriff Mascher recently noted a report showing that of 481 calls to Spectrum Healthcare’s mobile crisis team based in Cottonwood from patrol officers, 474 individuals were diverted from the jail to appropriate mental health services. The result is a reduction in recidivism rates and enhanced public safety due to treatment vs. incarceration. YCSO personnel in the Prescott basin now have access to Terros of Prescott Valley and the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic for crisis intervention.
As part of the ongoing training, Crisis Intervention Training will take place for 1st responders from all area law enforcement agencies in October in Prescott. Similar training has already been held in Camp Verde.