Mental health incidents stress police resources

By Hank Lohmeyer

Dealing with calls that involve mental health problems, a short-handed Cedaredge Police Department finds its resources being stretched, Police Chief Dan Sanders told the Cedaredge Town Board on Sept. 15.

"We [law enforcement] are mental health for Delta County," Sanders said as he detailed extensive time and manpower that is required to deal with calls involving mental health problems.

Among the resource-consuming responsibilities the Cedaredge Police Department must deal with are hours-long waits in the emergency room as individuals they have taken into custody are evaluated. Also required are long trips to the Front Range and back for transporting patients to available mental health facility bed space, something that is in short supply on the Western Slope.

Dealing with mental health issues "has been eating us up lately," Sanders told the trustees. "It's not just [Cedaredge] but it's the sheriff" and other agencies as well.

The Cedaredge department recently lost an officer and Sanders is interviewing for a replacement.