REDWAY >> Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman visited the Garberville Rotary Club last week to talk about the "four Ms" — marijuana, methamphetamine, mental health and money. He also included homelessness in the discussion.
Allman talked about the many challenges ahead of him as sheriff and what lies ahead for the future. He is running unopposed for election as sheriff. It was no surprise to anyone in the room that drug use is on the rise and especially the use of methamphetamine and bath salts, or Molly, as it is commonly called.
He said, "These aren't the bath salts your mom soaked in the bathtub with." They are deadly and he has witnessed first hand how they can affect someone who has taken them and those who have to deal one-on-one with the results of that action.
He went into detail about a young man who literally tore apart his parents hot woodstove with his bare hands. He was taken to the hospital with severe burns. Allman said once the man came down off the drug and was taken to jail he had no recollection of the event and according to Allman, "seemed quite normal." Unfortunately a few hours later he once again behaved in a manner associated with the use of this drug. The ingredients used to make the deadly drug are readily available on the Internet and are shipped all over the country.
Another subject that is more often discussed is the legalization of marijuana. Allman said he believes it will be legalized, but the California State Sheriff's Association has chosen to take a neutral stand on the issue at this time.
Another issue that has come to the forefront is mental illness and the lack or services all over the country. Allman said that at least Humboldt County has Sempervirens, although it is very limited with only around a dozen beds available. In Mendocino County those who are deemed to have emotional/mental issues are taken either to the hospital for treatment and/or to the county jail. He said of course this is not the best place for many of these people, but currently there are no alternatives.
Allman said he is looking into a crisis program that is currently being used in Sonoma County. Instead of sending deputies to respond to non-violent calls Sonoma sends specially trained members of a crisis team with special training to deal with things like domestic disagreements or juvenile problems.
He said having a deputy arrive in a patrol car can sometimes just escalate the problem, leading to the person being handcuffed and taken to jail. A social worker or trained crisis intervention person can usually talk people down from what could become a very volatile situation and avoid the need for law enforcement.
The sheriff did clarify that if there was any indication of violence his deputies would be right there to intervene and no one would ever be sent into an unstable or dangerous situation. The program in Sonoma seems to be working well and he will be looking into it more fully.
Homelessness was also included in the discussion and he said sometimes people are homeless by choice, because of drug use or mental illness, or have just fallen on hard times. He is not unlike a lot of us in that he doesn't know what the solutions are for all of these problems. Of course he says if we had more money to fund the various programs it would help, but you are never going to cure all of these very real problems.
He agreed that business owners have the right to operate their businesses in a safe environment without being accosted by panhandlers and people blocking the sidewalks and doorways. Rude and unacceptable behavior should not be allowed no matter who it is coming from.
He said, "It's pretty obvious that we are not living in the world our grandparents and parents grew up in and we will never get back to that. But, we can work together to improve it."