This article was originally published by the Sioux City Journal.
SIOUX CITY | The situation plays itself out several times a month, Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena said.
Deputies are called to a home where someone who suffers from mental illness is upset, perhaps disruptive, and has become uncontrollable. Deputies transport the person to a hospital emergency room, where a doctor determines that the person doesn't meet criteria to be hospitalized or committed to a mental health facility.
The deputy has no choice but to let the person go; there's nowhere else to take him or her. So the person returns home, and deputies might be called back two or three times before the situation either subsides or escalates, sometimes ending in an arrest.
"They don't need to be handcuffed, they don't need to be in jail," Altena said. "They need services that officers can't offer. A lot of times there are no other options."
Soon, there will be.
This week, the hiring process begins to staff the Crisis Stabilization Center, a facility that will offer short-term observation or longer-term housing in a secure setting to individuals whose conditions don't warrant hospitalization.