POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - After years of work and planning, the Southeast Idaho Behavioral Crisis Center will open its doors on Monday.
The center aims to help those in the region who may need help.
“The main services we’re going to provide is mental health and substance abuse emergency services," Director Matt Hardin said. "So our goal is to take anybody that’s in crisis and work on stabilization.”
Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said he's been pushing for a center of the sort for "decades."
On opening day, Neilsen is excited, saying this is "a good step forward."
For years, Nielsen and his deputies have been responding to calls of people in crisis, but the options of how to proceed were limited.
"What do we do when we pick up somebody that they know that they need help, we know that they need help, where are we going to put him," Nielsen asked.
The answer is usually the hospitals or having the subject arrested on a misdemeanor charge and putting them in jail.
"That's how its been for the 40 plus years I've been in law enforcement," Nielsen said. "Today, we can take that person and we can take them to this center."
"Look at how therapeutic that is compared to you're having a meltdown and now you're thrown into jail," he said.
Moves like this, taking steps to protect people before it's too late, are part of what Nielsen feels a civilized society should be doing.
"Mental health is a health condition. You don't put diabetics in jail because they're off their insulin."
With the center up and running, Nielsen believes that many of those in crisis, be it for mental or drug issues, will be taken care of and back on the street in a matter of days.
"Do I expect my jail population to go down? Not much," Nielsen said, explaining that nearly 80 percent of his jail is occupied by felons.
But Nielsen hopes that this center helps cut down on the period of near "cruel and unusual punishment," when someone with a mental issue is forced to spend the night in jail.
The center will open its doors at 1 p.m. at its 1001 North 7th Avenue location.