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Emphasis on improving outcomes for those with mental illness

Column by Commissioner Cook

  • 15 July 2021
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2309

and patience now and are waaaaay more understanding of mental illness, i am one of these inmates that has mental illness.

2ndly id like to bring to your attention a short list of your officers who in my opinion deserve acknowledgement and praise

1, (Corrections Officer) Radke - for being very empathetic bout my mental well being and that fact that ive been smocked out for 37 days.

2, CO Hargrove- for reminding me that im still human, for being friendly, for being kind, for being respectful too

3, Depuety Ortiz, for making sure i stay safe not just from myself but from other inmates due to my charges.

And last but in my opinion the top tier officer CO mcbey (micbey??) for saving my life during an autistic suicidel rage, he kept a close eye on me for 4 hours, checkin in on me every 5 minutes and when i had calmed down enough to talk, had very compassionatly and kindly treated me with care and tenderness, he saved my life and i am extremely grateful for it, i know you dont hear the good things about your officers, just the bad, so i hope this reaches your heart, and notifys you that you have amazing staff here, and i know i am under safe care and watch.

I had an emotional response to this letter, typos and all. The letter represents not only the sheriff’s leadership but his emphasis on training, requiring appropriate responses to inmates’ needs and providing compassionate leadership by hiring Kathleen Pokluda.

Pokluda returned to the sheriff’s office in 2020, bringing an extensive background in mental health work with those incarcerated. Employed for three years with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, she traveled throughout Texas as a mental health trainer and assisted in creating the curriculum for the state-mandated course Mental Health Training for Jailers.

The course instructs jailers to appropriately deal with inmates experiencing mental illness, mental impairments and intellectual developmental disabilities – whew!  What a difference she is making.

As for patrol, while the previous administration decimated the Crisis Intervention Team, this sheriff rebuilt that important group of 10 officers who responds to mental health calls, along with other professionals in the field, around-the-clock.

The absence of this CIT team for four years was an experiment in self-sufficiency of local forces. Now, besides the county’s and Bluebonnet’s mobile teams, our residents with mental health crises have another critical countywide resource.

I sponsored and took the free Adult Mental Health First Aid training a few years ago at the Jester Annex, now offered by Bluebonnet Trails Community Services. I always remember the statement, “1-in-5 people experience mental illness.” As you sit at a soccer match, T-ball game or church this summer, look around you: 1-in-5.

Visit tinyurl.com/yb9pkdrc or email mh.fa@bbtrails.org to sponsor or take the training.

It’s well worth your time.

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