Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - June 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Chief explains handling of mentally challenged
Houston County Courier - June 2008
Following a question posed by Councilman Nathan Gardner Monday night, June 2 regarding the release of patients from Rusk State Hospital after three days, Crockett Police Chief Jimmy Fisher said he could talk for the entire council meeting about the subject of the handling of the mentally challenged.
In offering a reason for the release of individuals after the three-day evaluation period Fisher said, "President Bush has closed mental institutions across the U.S. and is using the money to fight the war in Iraq."
He went on to say, "They have put the burden on law enforcement to deal with these people. Rusk State Hospital releases them back into the public."
He added, "The only thing that can deal with these people is medicine," explaining that the mentally challenged will often stop taking their medication when they begin to feel better, pointing out, that is when the problems begin.
He said an added burden was once picked up by the Crockett Police Department, the individual was taken to ETMC and his officer was forced to sit there for six-eight hours before the person was then transported to Rusk State Hospital by Houston County Sheriff's Office deputies.
He said the six-eight hours spent by the officers forced them into overtime. He also said, in his nearly 20-minute response, that he felt the Houston County Sheriff's Office should have to sit and wait at ETMC rather than his officers. He added that ETMC should have security personnel as well.
"There is no law against being crazy," Fisher said.
"We have several mentally challenged people in our community," he added citing at least two citizens by name.
Fisher said CPD received about one call per week on the mentally challenged.
City Administrator Ron Duncan said the state has approved grant funding for facilities statewide to accommodate the mentally challenged.
Following the presentation of the 2007 audit by CPA Jesse Stephens, Duncan said he had sent a memo to department heads regarding fuel costs and citing certain restrictions to lower expenditures.
During the presentation of the audit, Stephens said revenue from the sale of water was down for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2007.
Duncan said during 2007 citizens didn't use as much water as anticipated and he would keep that in mind as he began the upcoming budgeting process. "We are going to have to tighten our belts for another year."
Councilman James Hall asked Fisher to look at where the disparity was between the about $200,000 budgeted as income for fines last year and the actual amount received of about $90,000 less; a difference of about 40 percent.
Fisher said there was a number of factors why revenue was down. He said he had received a call about the Texas Department of Public Safety troopers working inside the city limits on the Click-it-or-Ticket campaign and a lot of people don't have the money to pay tickets, but they were obeying the laws more.
In other business, Council authorized Crockett Fire Department Chief Darrell Deckard to apply to the U.S, Department of Homeland Security for a grant for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. Deckard said the program, if funded, provides for salary for full-time personnel on a sliding scale basis with the first year's salary being compensated at a rate of 60 percent.
The following year's salary is compensated at reduced rates over a four-year period.
"We are at times critically understaffed and this is one way to help eliminate the problem," Deckard said.
He added that the national average for the number of paid personnel in a department is four and SAFER has funded several programs in the state this year.
Council approved Deckard making application for the grant utilizing three personnel.
Council approved an ordinance to require a permit for commercial filming in the city of Crockett that was tabled at the May meeting.