LAYTON, Utah (ABC4) – When it comes to drug addicts or those suffering from a mental health crisis, Utah has options you may not realize. ABC4 is getting a firsthand look at work being done in Davis County to offer them help, instead of police sending them to jail.
“Up until The Receiving Center was implemented our options were very limited, it was the hospital or jail,” said Bountiful Police Sgt. Jon Joubert.
The center, which has been open since 2019, gives police a third option. Instead of sending someone to jail or having them admitted to the ER, people in crisis go to The Receiving Center to get immediate treatment for free.
“This might be someone who’s acutely psychotic, severely depressed, having anxiety issues,” said The Receiving Center and Crisis Recovery Unit Director Callie Murray. Murray said anyone can walk in the door, stay typically for 24 hours, detox, and get professional and medical help.
“When they come to The Receiving Center we do a lot of case management with them, we help them apply for Medicaid if they’re unfunded, we get them linked up with treatment resources in the community,” said Murray.
Those who come to the center often hear about it from officers like Bountiful Police on patrol. They refer people who need help to Sgt. Joubert or Bountiful PD Detective Chris Young who focuses on helping those with mental health concerns. They follow up to connect those in crisis with treatment, Behavioral Health workers, or The Receiving Center.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people that self-report to The Receiving Center. So, word has definitely gotten out,” said Joubert.
They said putting the time in here helps police spend less time responding to the same calls about the same people over and over again. Det. Young said it’s a win for both those seeking help and for the police department.
“We can focus our efforts on other areas of the community and these people can get the help that they need,” said Det. Young.
Those who stick with treatment in the weeks that follow get any criminal charges dismissed. Young said it avoids that “revolving door” of going to jail, getting out, and going back to jail. One woman, who was suffering from thoughts of suicide, told police the work officers did to find her and follow up saved her life.
“Sgt. Joubert found me on my way to the canyon. He was very patient and understanding. He let me cry and talked to me,” she said. “I felt like everything was going to be okay after being in a very bad place for almost a week. If he hadn’t found me, I’m sure I wouldn’t be writing the email right now. He went the extra mile to help me and didn’t treat me like it was an inconvenience.”
While not everyone police find seeks help, The Receiving Center remains open 24-7 for those that do. Since December 2019, the center has admitted 3589 people in crisis, and about 60% go on to get continued help after they leave.
If you need to visit The Receiving Center, click on this link for its location and information.