By Thomas Saccente
Local officials in Sebastian County got together on Tuesday to discuss implementing a crisis stabilization unit.
The planning committee of the Sebastian County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee held its first meeting at the Sebastian County Courts Building in Fort Smith at noon Tuesday. The Sebastian County Quorum Court approved an ordinance establishing the criminal justice coordinating committee during its regular meeting Aug. 15. The committee’s purpose is to, among other goals, provide a working forum to support communications and collaborative coordination between and among key justice system officials, advisory bodies, agencies, departments and community leaders.
The committee consists of an eight-member planning committee and a treatment and diversion subcommittee. Members of the planning committee include Sebastian County Circuit Judge James Cox, Circuit Judge Annie Hendricks, County Judge David Hudson, Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck and others.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the planning committee discussed the implementation of a crisis stabilization unit in the county. Sebastian County was one of four counties that applied to open a CSU that will receive up to $1.6 million in funding from the state to operate a 16-bed facility. The remaining three counties were Craighead, Pulaski and Washington counties.
Hudson talked about the technical assistance meeting in Little Rock that he and others from Sebastian County participated in Aug. 23to review implementing the CSU.
“At that meeting, we got a packet of information … and it sets out a document that they gave us, which is a template to answer questions on, similar to the grant application that we had to fill out,” Hudson said.
Hudson said the template is due Sept. 15. He anticipated getting a rough draft of the document put together this week, which would then be discussed in a followup meeting.
Another procedure Hudson said was set up during the Aug. 23 meeting in Little Rock were administrative followup conference calls. These will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. every Friday.
″… The four counties that are crisis stabilization unit locations had been represented there, along with the Department of Human Services, the governor’s staff, and Steve Allen, who is with the Council of State Governments,” Hudson said. “He had had a PowerPoint … that they used in this meeting, and then on the call last Friday, there was another PowerPoint given out talking about some of the protocol, such as what type of assessment procedures would be used by the crisis stabilization staff for folks being checked into and processed into the facility.”
One of the challenges Gov. Asa Hutchinson presented to those present Aug. 23 was to work expeditiously to make the CSUs successful.
Hudson said the treatment and diversion subcommittee of the Sebastian County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee will meet Sept. 12 at noon.