How does the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office respond to mental health calls?

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:35 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating how a Hancock County woman fell out of a deputy’s patrol car and died in July.

The GBI says Brianna Grier had a history of mental illness. The family says she was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Grier’s parents called the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office after they say she was behaving abnormally.

GBI says the back door Grier fell out of was never closed.

We reached out to the sheriff’s office to find out their policy on responding to mental health calls but did not hear back.

Meanwhile, we’re checking in with Richmond County to see how they handle similar cases.

Deputy Chief Clayton says they get about 2,200 mental health calls per year, hundreds per month.

The sheriff’s office is looking to gain more resources, not just when the call comes in but the after-effects.

“We can always try to make it better,” said Clayton.

Clayton says he is looking to provide more help when deputies are called to the scene of someone suffering a mental health crisis.

“It’s in our best benefit to get these people the resources they need frequently. Most of them, if they’re on their medication and they are receiving counseling, they’re fine,” he said.

He says deputies are trained on crisis intervention techniques, but there is only so much they can do.

“We frequently have these mental health calls. Our biggest is usually Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings seem to be the worst,” he said.

Clayton says he would like to see the Crisis Intervention Team Program revitalized to assist officers on mental health calls. The program had to be dissolved because of staffing and COVID funding going away.

In that program, he says the social health workers on the team can de-escalate the situation better.

“This kind of program here, we actually have someone on board, they can help them get back on their medications, they can help them get back into a counseling program,” he said.

Clayton adds this program would bring relief to deputies as well.

“It will really reduce the amount of resources that we are using for these kinds of calls that can be used on other calls where we can place a bigger emphasis,” said Clayton.

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