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Law enforcement response to Crisis Stabilization Unit increases


Officers from six counties may call the Sebastian County CSU and screen detainees.


By Max Bryan
SW Times Record

Though law enforcement officials’ response to the Sebastian County Five West Crisis Stabilization Unit was slow at first, CSU officials say they are finally starting to fully utilize the facility.

CSU, located on South 70th Street in Fort Smith, was established to divert the mentally ill in Sebastian, Crawford, Logan, Franklin, Scott and Polk counties from jail to treatment. Program director Joey Potts said officers’ response to CSU has picked up since the unit opened at the end of February.

“Any time there’s something new, something different, it certainly takes time for people to understand the process, how to utilize this asset as best we possibly can,” said Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck, who was one of a handful of public officials who pushed for the establishment of CSU.

Officers from the six counties may call CSU and screen detainees who they believe to have mental health issues over the phone, Potts said. If the detainee is approved for diversion to CSU, the officer then brings the detainee to the facility and hands him or her off after a brief interview, she said.

Potts said she has seen officers from agencies in all six of the counties bring detainees to CSU. She said Fort Smith police officers were initially slower at bringing detainees to the facility because of department policies.

Despite the initial lag in referrals, Potts said workers at CSU still have good relationships with all law enforcement agencies who have utilized the facility.

“They’ve been very supportive,” Potts said of the officers. Read more.

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