Calls increase for mental disorders; deputies see 17 percent increase in 2013; 16 percent more in 2014

Deputies with the Fallbrook Sheriff’s substation have experienced a significant increase in calls relating to individuals displaying behaviors associated with mental disorders in 2013 and the first quarter of 2014. But the increase in these situations isn’t limited to Fallbrook, it is on the upswing throughout San Diego County.

“Fallbrook and all of the Sheriff’s other jurisdictions have seen a dramatic increase in these types of calls,” said Lt. Todd Richardson, commander of the Fallbrook Sheriff’s substation. “It’s kind of the nature of our times. There’s been less and less funding for mental health issues. With the prison realignment issue, a good number of these individuals with mental problems (many due to drug use) are being released back into the population.”

According to the criminal intelligence analysis division of the Sheriff’s Dept., in the Fallbrook command, there were 134 of these types of calls/contacts by deputies here in 2011. That number slightly decreased in 2012 to 131, but rose sharply by 17 percent to 148 in 2013 and looks to increase another 16 percent in 2014 if statistics from the first quarter are any indication.

“It’s something we take very seriously, because there is an extreme danger to our deputies in responding to these calls,” said Richardson. “We now have mandated training to keep deputies up-to-date on how to handle people with mental health issues; in handling a psychological emergency this includes the importance of using less lethal weapons, like bean bags, taser, etcRichardson said while some citizens complain about the use of these devices, when these individuals are endangering themselves or others, “that’s the only safe way to deal with them.” According to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Criminal Justice Research Division, between 2008 and 2013 in the region’s four largest law enforcement agencies – the Sheriff’s Dept. and the San Diego, Chula Vista, and Oceanside Police Departments – there was an overall 55 percent increase in calls for service involving people who pose a danger to themselves or to others due to a mental health crisis. Countywide, the total number of calls jumped from 14,442 in 2008 to 22,315 in 2013.

One of the most volatile situations officers encounter is when a mentally unstable individual is intent on suicide.

“Since there is a tie between suicide and 5150/mental disorder calls, we have seen an increase in those as well,” said Richardson. “Throughout the county, we will have individuals who say ‘you have to kill me; I won’t come out.’ These people try to force the issue, but our SWAT team has done a good job of talking them out.”

Given the increase in these calls, authorities admit a growing amount of law enforcement resources in the region are being consumed by the increase in mental health calls.

Countywide, SANDAG listed the reasons for the increase in mental disorder calls as follows:

• Limited resources from the state to address mental health conditions

• The public’s expectation that officers and deputies respond to mental health crises

• An increase in independent living facilities which provide housing to individuals with mental health issues, but are not licensed and managed by the state

• Stressful economic conditions

• The release of non-violent offenders from detention facilities who may have mental health issues.

Richardson added perhaps the most significant reason. “They aren’t keeping the drug-related cases in jail as long as they used to,” he said.

In Fallbrook, Richardson said he would encourage residents to “err on the side of caution,” when deciding whether to call the Sheriff’s Dept. for assistance regarding someone with possible mental issues.

“We would prefer to have people call us and let us come out and evaluate the situation; our deputies are trained to screen these situations,” he said. “These cases can become volatile real quickly. If a person gets a suspicious feeling, they should call us. We may be able to get the person some help.”

12 Responses to "Calls increase for mental disorders; deputies see 17 percent increase in 2013; 16 percent more in 2014"

  1. Becky   April 2, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Thank you!

  2. grunt   April 3, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Serious question here: Are the mental issues increasing associated with the use of various illegal drugs? Does drug use cause, or increase the mental health issuses?

  3. DR DR   April 3, 2014 at 10:15 am

    And you are going to see a lot more mental individuals out, as the plan to let all jailbirds out except violent crime offenders… on the news again last night.

  4. Ray (the real one)   April 4, 2014 at 4:46 am

    The County of San Diego treats mental illness as the crazy aunt in the attic, everyone knows she`s there but nobody wants to talk about it. The county should be ashamed on how it treats it`s mentally ill. A few years, we voted on a proposition demanding the mentally ill be treated with dignity and respect and out of all the 58 counties in California, only one has abided by the law, Nevada County.

    San Diego County would rather “farm out” their mentally ill to for pro,fit private agencies like Telecare who just was awarded a brand new two year contract, thanks Bill Horn but did the county investigate this company before awarding the contract?

    A girl I know has mental issues and was placed not by her choice with Telecare and they I feel she was greatly mishandled. What I loved the best was the constant smoke blown up her xxx by their employees who were different every month.
    Not until I threatened legal action did they release her from their incarceration tactics than messed up her disability payments with Social Security. When I did an accounting of her finances, she was so far in debt, took six months to bring her current.
    This is the type of treatment you receive if your mentally ill in San Diego County due to the county not “manning up” and following the law and the will of the voters and treat these people with respect and dignity, remember mental illness is not contagious, they didn’t ask for it. Supes, do your jobs.

  5. Clemmens_resident   April 5, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Last summer, myself had a bad breakdown that didn’t happen overnight but was triggered upon a series of stressful events. Divorce, my grandma died among other things. I would like to ‘thank’ the local law enforcement who did arrest me on the 5150, I was so sick and out of it if you only knew what i was thinking they were going to do to me at the time didn’t help my cooperation; however, it was obvious now that I’m getting much better that your senior deputies are gentle, kind family men who I want to thank for not ‘abusing ‘ me. Most people assumed I was a ‘meth case’ very similiar behaviors. It would be great to more ‘ministry trained folk’ be on call and trained also how to deal with individuals that any of us can ‘crack’ at anytime. Thanks Fallbrook, it’s a work in progress. Keep up the good deeds that may not get noticed.

  6. Pink   April 5, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Good luck to you Clemmens resident. Praying that you will continue to get stronger and better everyday.

  7. grunt   April 5, 2014 at 10:14 am

    @clemmens – not sure but there used to be a volunteer crises intervention organization in north county. With your back ground, (do not know if you have time) this would be something you could get involved with – then you would have the trained personnel to support law enforcement. My prayers for your continued recovery,.

  8. inquiring mind   April 5, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Of all the news items covered by this paper one would think that the topic of mental disorders would be something Lee should be commenting on and yet I see nothing. Lord only knows it’s probably the only subject on which he has any direct experience.

  9. Paul   April 5, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    I agree "inquiring minds". Lee won’t comment on this subject because it is a little to close to home.

  10. Lee   April 7, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Oh, I most certainly will!

    THIS is what happens, my dear fellow Fallbrookers and Americans, when we, as a nation, do NOT spend money on THE PEOPLE but instead invest it in our HUGE military-industrial complex! (Without the act of violence, the following article sums it up perfectly.)

  11. DR DR   April 7, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I would like to see our money spent on two things: The mentally ill and upgrade technology within all our military infrastructures.

  12. Queen   April 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Man, Lee, if you had just stopped at "PEOPLE" I could’ve agreed with you. Thank you, ACLU (insert sarcasm) We SO need to help these people, and Clemmens, glad to see you are doing better….what a great idea grunt has, if you could, as you understand first hand, best of luck to you.


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