News and Tribune

Clark County

May 6, 2013

Event connects mental health professionals

Most of Clark County’s mental health cases come before Judge Dan Moore

(Continued)

JEFFERSONVILLE —

According to Mark Pruitt, Clark Memorial Hospital’s director of behavioral health services, several criteria must be met to obtain such an edict. Above all, the person in question must be dangerous to themselves or others and need immediate restraint. 

“It’s always better to let the person make the choice, but ultimately if they don’t and they’re a danger to themselves or others, we will allow an emergency detention order,” Pruitt said. 

When approved, medical personnel have up to 72 hours, not including weekends, to complete their analysis. Commitment extensions, although rarely asked for, are available for either 30 or 90 days and require a separate court hearing. 

Of course, medical personnel can’t do any of this without a judge’s approval. Most of the metal health cases in Clark County come before Moore. While protecting the public from threats, Moore also must weigh the constitutional protections of the patient into his decision to issue emergency detention orders. He’s been known to turn down these requests if proper justification isn’t provided. 

“We are all mindful of the fact that using this procedure … we are depriving the citizen of their liberty and the first step here we’re depriving them of their liberty without a hearing,” Moore said. “We’ve got to be very careful that we do this the right way. We’ve got to be very guarded that the information we’re getting looks and sounds legitimate.”

In addition, law enforcement also has the ability to institute a 24-hour psychiatric hold on someone they deem mentally unstable. For the past two years, a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program has given police officers necessary tools to make that decision easier. Each participating department has at least one CIT member available for each shift. Money provided by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute has since run out, and other nonpublic avenues of funding the program are currently being considered. 

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