Recently, Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond spoke to the Franklin County Commission and the Pasco City Council promoting the idea of re-purposing the former Kennewick Hospital into an in-patient treatment and recovery center.
Sheriff Raymond pointed out that the jails should not be used as a warehouse for mentally ill people, drug addicts, and the homeless. The Tri-Cities is the only major metropolitan area in Eastern Washington with no de-tox center.
Who can forget the video of the horrible treatment of Marc A. Moreno who died in the Benton County jail in 2016. Moreno was bi-polar and schizophrenic.
While Benton County Commissioners quickly approved funds for a feasibility study for the proposed project, only Commissioner Clint Didier voted to approve the Franklin County share, $12,500. However, funding was found and the study has commenced.
In 2017, I filmed this video of police responding to an apparent drug overdose case. As several friends and I left a city council meeting that fall, we found a lightly dressed young man who appeared to be in drug crisis lying on the steps muttering and obviously hallucinating. He made no threatening gestures but was obviously a danger to himself if he either ran into the street or remained outside without adequate clothing. For lack of anywhere else to turn, someone called the police who were just next door. Within minutes six police appeared on the scene. The situation quickly escalated. Four of the police surrounded the man. As the he struggled, police commanded “Calm down” and “You are resisting arrest.” Needless to say, this had no effect. Then two paramedics arrive. After a few minutes in the grass with the man’s head held down, four of the police managed to place him in the patrol car and he could be heard kicking and screaming inside. I was never able to determine where they took the man but I assumed to jail. If he was treated like Moreno there, at least he survived it.
Much has been made about calls to “defund” police, but what we really need to do is “reorganize” police and re-think their job. Hopefully, our counties will move swiftly in that direction.