Brooks pursues legislation dealing with mentally ill

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 25, 2019

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The Covington County Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously to pursue local legislation dealing with the transportation of mentally ill residents in the county.

Currently, Alabama law does not allow law enforcement officials to transport a mentally ill individual, who is a danger to himself or others, to a hospital for evaluation and treatment without a court order. During the County Commission meeting Tuesday, Probate Judge Stacy B. Brooks asked the Commissioners to pass a resolution supporting local legislation to change that law.

The proposed legislation will allow law enforcement officers, under certain conditions, to take an individual whom the officer believes has a mental illness into protective custody and transport them to a hospital for evaluation and treatment. The proposed legislation would also authorize an attending physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant at a hospital, in certain situations, to detain and provide emergency treatment to an individual with a mental illness for up to 72 hours.

“As the law currently stands, when law enforcement officials interact with an individual who is suicidal, homicidal, or psychotic, and unwilling to get medical treatment, the officer must obtain a court order before they can transport the individual to a hospital,” Brooks said. “Contacting a judge and obtaining a court order takes time, which makes it more likely that someone may hurt themselves or someone else.”