Orange County Sheriff Seeks Info On Mental Health Residents

Jun 13, 2017

Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood.
Credit Orange County Sheriff's Office

The Orange County Sheriff's Office wants information on residents with mental illnesses in the hopes of avoiding negative interactions with law enforcement. 

The office released forms that caregivers can fill out voluntarily. Deputies can access the information on a closed database if they encounter someone who they believe might have a mental illness or cognitive disability.

The sheriff's planning coordinator Merrily Cheek said it includes guidance that can de-escalate tense situations.

"The whole idea is provide us as much information as you can on your loved one so that this advanced knowledge can make for a less stressful, safer, more efficient response by law enforcement," she said. "For instance, do lights and sirens set them off? Will that make the situation worse? Are there dietary issues? Are they verbal? Are they not verbal? If they're not verbal, are there certain things that they do respond positively to?"

The database is named after Josh Bailey, an Orange County man who had a mental illness and was murdered by another civilian in 2008.

The database is available only to deputies, and can include information like trigger warnings for a person.

"They can go look into this database, and then maybe this information pops up: they live at this address and here's their emergency contact information, and I better turn my blue lights off because that might make matters worse," said Cheek.

The office's eventual goal is to be able to share the information with other agencies.