ORANGE CITY, Iowa (KELO) — Every day on the job is different for Sgt. Justin De Bruin with the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office.
He’s worked in law enforcement for about a decade.
“We get everything from burglaries calls to theft calls to could be something domestic, could be family issues,” De Bruin said.
Over the years, he’s seen more and more mental-health related calls, which could be happening for a number of reasons.
“Number one, maybe we’re more aware. Number two, I think drugs have taken over a lot of lives. I think alcohol has taken over a lot of lives,” De Bruin said.
Sheriff Jamie Van Voorst says there were about 150 mental health related calls across the county last year.
“I foresee, in the next five years, we could be approaching 200 mental health-related calls just in our county alone. That’s too big of a number in my mind to just ignore. We’ve got to do something a little better,” Van Voorst said.
That’s why the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office is adding a mental health deputy.
“It’s that idea of a specialty and an area dedicated primarily to helping people who are in crisis and going through things that most law enforcement, street law enforcement don’t understand fully,” Van Voorst said.
The deputy will have enhanced mental health training and will respond to crisis calls and help people get connected with resources among other duties.
They may need to decide, ‘Is jail the right place for this person?’ That’s not always the case. In the past, the person’s ended up in jail because there’s nowhere else to go, so my hope would be this person could help route this individual to better services,” Van Voorst said.
The idea was sparked thanks to a partnership between the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office and Seasons Center.
The behavioral health provider currently responds to crisis calls in the area through its mobile services.
“When they get that call and realize maybe this person could be stabilized on scene and not have to go to the emergency room, our main goal is to make sure that person is safe with the most freedom that they can have, so if they don’t need to go to the emergency room or have law enforcement be there they can call us and we can come in and meet with this person,” Seasons Center on-call crisis staff member Janelle Hultquist said.
The mental health deputy will work alongside Seasons Center at times.
“If you’re kind of trained to think about what’s going on on the inside versus on the outside you can pick up on other things in ways to know what resources to connect them with,” Hutlquist said.
De Bruin is happy the position is being created.
“Having a mental health deputy that is there to provide their assistance and even train us better, to better equip us is hands down very, very valuable,” De Bruin said.
Van Voorst hopes to have the mental health deputy start on July 1st.