An increase in the temperatures during late May and on in to early June has seen somewhat of a correlating rise in calls to the Escalon Police Department – primarily for assistance with mental health issues.
Escalon Police Chief Mike Borges said the first heat wave of the summer wasn’t long enough to prompt the opening of a local ‘cooling center’ – which could happen later on if the heat is sustained over a longer period of time – but it did seem to prompt a higher volume of calls for service.
“Last week I was part of a group from the state Police Chiefs Association, we went to Sacramento to talk to legislators,” Borges noted. “What we talked about, there is $20 million of ongoing money in the (state) budget and part of that is to deal with homeless and mental health issues.”
What Borges said he has seen in Escalon in reviewing calls for the past few weeks is a sizeable increase in the ‘5150’ calls – police code for ‘mental issues’ and while he said San Joaquin County Mental Health Department officials have been responsive in many of the cases, the calls still tie up an officer as well, most times for more than an hour.
That might not seem like much, he added, but in a small department, taking one officer out of service for other calls while on a mental health case impacts their response time to others.
“When we can get our county mental health involved, it’s a big asset to us,” Borges noted.
One arrest last week was related to threats made, the chief said, by a subject police are familiar with from mental health issues in the past.
Borges said when the line is crossed and “threats to commit a crime or injure somebody” are made, the department typically moves to arrest.
“There are also calls, locations that we are responding to frequently,” the chief said. “One location, since March of this year, we have been there seven times.”
Already this month, the department has responded to more than half a dozen ‘5150’ calls that have taken officers out of service from other duties.
“It’s just a lack of ongoing mental health care for people,” he explained.
The visit to legislators will hopefully address some of those concerns, Borges said, if the state money can be released to county mental health departments to beef up their programs and services and get them delivered to those in need.
“We do work with our San Joaquin Mental Health (Department) trying to bring in some services and they have been pretty responsive to us,” Borges said of developing a good working relationship with the mental health professionals.
Meanwhile, he said the hot weather didn’t spark any requests for welfare checks on residents but he urged citizens to keep tabs on their elderly neighbors and relatives when the temperatures hit triple digits.
He also said citizens should continue to be watchful and smart when it comes to potential scams; as one person this week reported an IRS scam in the area and another indicated a possible Publishers Clearing House scam, where they had to send money in order to get a larger prize.