Sheriff’s Office has new tool to deal with people in crisis

Pennington County Sheriff's Office
Pennington County Sheriff's Office joins Virtual Crisis Care pilot program(KEVN/KOTA)
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 7:09 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -The idea is to give law enforcement another tool when dealing with people who may be having a mental health crisis.

The Pennington County Sheriff''s Office is one of 18 sheriff’s offices across the state in the Virtual Crisis Care pilot program.

When a deputy arrives on the scene, they now have the option, through a laptop, of connecting that person to a mental health profession with Avera out of Sioux Falls through a video link.

That gives law enforcement someone to help de-escalate a situation and hopefully end up with a better outcome for everyone involved. It was used seven times in Pennington County last month and once so far this month.

Capt. Mark Hughes says, “Typically, if people are making homicidal or suicidal statements or if people have shown the inability to care for themselves or any other type of crisis, we can put them in touch with these people. Avera e-care supplied us with 15 iPads. We put some of those in our contract communities, we assign those to patrol deputies before every shift, and they have those with them in the field in the event they need to use them.”

That program is funded through the Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust.

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