Virginia offering new transportation for mental health patients

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia is rolling out a new initiative intended to reduce the need for law enforcement agencies to transport people for treatment of a mental health crisis.

Local news outlets report the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services gave lawmakers a new look at the new transportation service that will be available soon. Under the program, some people under temporary detention orders who otherwise would be transported in the back of a police car, possibly handcuffed, will ride unrestrained apart from a seat belt in an unmarked Dodge Durango.

Daniel Herr is with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. He tells WVTF being transported by law enforcement adds to concerns about stigma and restrictive treatment.

The initiative will debut next month in southwest Virginia and then will be phased in around the state.

RELATED: Abingdon’s police chief expresses frustration with Virginia’s mental health system

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