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Gates PD says it will no longer take mental health arrest cases to Strong



GATES, N.Y. — Gates Police will temporarily no longer take anyone they pick up because of a mental health problem to Strong Hospital.

The last straw for the chief was a case last week. Gates Police Chief Jim VanBrederode says officers arrested a man who was smashing windows at his family’s home and ran towards busy railroad tracks. The chief says Gates Police got him and took him to Strong Hospital on a mental hygiene arrest.

The chief says, like in the case of Daniel Prude, he was discharged just several hours later.

The chief says Strong Hospital put the man in a taxi and didn’t notify anyone.

“And of course we know he ended up back in the Town of Gates,” VanBrederode said at the Gates Town Hall Monday.

VanBrederode says until Strong Hospital develops what he calls a “comprehensive, holistic and standardized discharge plan” for people in custody on a mental hygiene arrest, his department will take those cases to RGH.

“I don’t know exactly what we’re going to find over there (at RGH),” VanBrederode said. “But I can tell you what doesn’t work and what doesn’t work is going to Elmwood Avenue.”

Elmwood Avenue is the address of Strong Hospital.

Here’s what the chief says happened last week.

On Columbus Day, the chief says a man was damaging his family home and appeared to be on drugs.

At 1 p.m., the man was arrested by Gates Police and taken to Strong Hospital.

At 7 p.m., the chief says the man was back at the family house.

VanBrederode says his officers asked to be notified when the man was released because they still have to charge him for damaging the home.

Brean: “They checked the box (on a report) saying they want to be notified when this person is let go and they told them that verbally, is that what you’re saying?”

Chief Jim VanBrederode, Gates Police Department: “Yes, both occurred.”

Brean: “And did Strong notify you when they let him go?”

VanBrederode: “No, in this situation they did not.”

Brean: “Any explanation why they didn’t do that?”

VanBrederode: “Again, they gave me no explanation. It didn’t happen, and they listened to my complaints.”

Here’s what the chief says he wants in a comprehensive plan.

  • A 24 hour cooling-off period for people taken to a hospital on a mental hygiene arrest.
  • A discharge plan.
  • A follow-up call within 24 hours.

VanBrederode compared the situation to a medical procedure at a hospital.

“They require that someone comes and picks you up when you leave, they usually call you about 8 o’clock that same night to see how you’re doing. How’s the pain? Is everything okay? There’s that comprehensive, holistic follow up that is done on the medical side,” he said. “I don’t know why that’s not happening on the psychiatric side.”

If this situation sounds familiar, Daniel Prude was taken to Strong Hospital on a mental hygiene arrest.

He was released after four hours and sent back to his brother’s house in a taxi.

Four hours later, he stopped breathing in police custody.

Here is a statement from URMC, Rochester Regional Health and Monroe County:

“Leaders from URMC and the Monroe County Office of Mental Health met with Chief VanBrederode last Friday to discuss his concerns. It is challenging for all of us that people suffering substance abuse disorders and mental health challenges are often able to refuse care that could help them. However, all hospitals and EDs in New York must follow the state’s mental hygiene law and criteria for inpatient psychiatric admissions, which prevent facilities from keeping patients involuntarily unless certain medical criteria are met.

We all want to improve the way our community cares for people suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues, which is why the County has formed a task force to improve the way law enforcement and health providers can work together to support people in crisis. These are community challenges that require community solutions, and it is not accurate to suggest that taking patients to one hospital over another will result in better outcomes for the families we all serve.”