NEWS FROM DON KNABE
Supervisor, Fourth District
County of Los Angeles
822 Hahn Hall of Administration
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: David A. Sommers
(213) 453-6446 (cell)
KNABE SEEKS SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS FOR
MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS
LOS ANGELES, February 4, 2010 – The three public hospitals operated by Los Angeles County receive more 14,000 patients every year who are on involuntary psychiatric holds, commonly known as a “5150.” Of these 14,000 patients, more than half arrive at County hospitals in the back of police and Sheriff patrol cars, even if they have not committed any crimes. In response, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe is seeking a way to provide better transportation services to patients on 5150 holds and save money from the expensive costs of moving patients in law enforcement vehicles.
“Over the years, I have heard numerous accounts from deputies on the difficulties they encounter responding to calls to assist residents with severe emotional disorders who are a danger to themselves and others,” said Supervisor Knabe. “This is an extremely difficult population for law enforcement to assist since the conditions and needs of the individual often exceed the knowledge and training that most law enforcement personnel receive.”
“Law enforcement units may not be staffed and equipped to transport 5150 detainees. The unit may be off its patrol for an extended period while taking the detainee to hospital. This is not the highest and best use of police resources. There should be a better way to transport a mental health detainee than handcuffed in a police car.”
The motion introduced by Knabe today is based on recommendations initially suggested by the County’s Emergency Medical Services Commission. Knabe’s motion specifically asks how taxpayer funds could be saved by finding better means of transportation for 5150 detainees. It will also explore other aspects of 5150 pre-hospital care.
Since 1996, Supervisor Knabe and College Hospital of Cerritos have hosted the annual “Stepping-In Conference,” where mental health professionals teach law enforcement personnel how to best serve psychiatric patients.
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