I read with interest a letter in The Journal on June 22. While I agree with some sentiments, the vision that the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, and the Justice and Peace Consortium may have held for the new Community Intervention Program may be a fairly long way from reality. I called 911 a few Saturday mornings ago for help with an unresponsive person in a van illegally parked at a nonprofit business where I volunteer.
A Cortez community services officer and, later, a badged officer responded. They were both extremely helpful and unhurried as they ascertained that the person in question was not under the influence of illegal drugs (my first impression) but was suffering from a diagnosed mental illness. They explained that this type of case would ideally be handled by the CIT but the team does not have sufficient staff to work weekends.
It is common knowledge that the majority of mental health and substance abuse crises occurs on weekends, so the absence of the team formed to respond to such crises on weekends is unfortunate. The police officers, however, responded in such a competent and compassionate manner that the outcome could not have been better, even if handled by the absent team. Kudos to the Cortez police department and good luck to the team in filling its ranks.
Given the nationwide shortage of social workers and behavioral health workers, it may prove a difficult task, sadly.
Stephanie Chris Calderon