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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala.- The Marshall County Commission is proving mental health safety and awareness is a top priority by approving two additional Community Mental Health Officers.

It brings the total to five.

“It’s not always easy to determine if a person is in a mental health crisis or under the influence of drugs,” explained Albertville Assistant Police Chief JT Cartee. “We train. We do the best we can, but we need professionals and these Community Mental Health Officers are going to be a great asset to helping us.”

Law enforcement agencies county-wide can call the Community Mental Health Officers to come to the scene and assess the person involved if they think a person may be experiencing a mental health crisis.

“They have more expertise in that area and they determine if this person needs to go and receive treatment. If this person committed a crime, is that person, if he’s suffering from mental illness, the question is: is he responsible for that,” Cartee said.

“That’s just another set of eyes and another way to look at that person to evaluate to determine is it substance abuse, is it mental illness, is it just mean,” added Marshall County Probate Judge Andrea LeCroy.

LeCroy told News 19 the Community Mental Health Officers protect the person involved and the officer investigating, which Cartee said he agrees with.

“A person in a mental crisis, we can’t consider them a criminal. We have to help them and just to be honest with you, we need more help. There’s a lot of people with mental illness in our community,” Cartee said.

LeCroy is excited about the new additions to a program that’s already proven useful.

“In the month of April there were 20 calls. Six went to the hospital with the Community Mental Health Officer. We really are working very hard together to help identify those people that are suffering and get them the help they need and not that they just go to jail where they don’t receive the treatment that they need,” LeCroy explained.

The program comes at no cost to the county. 

LeCroy said anyone taken to the hospital does not have to pay for that bill, the state of Alabama pays it.