Neglected mental health concerns and substance abuse disorder frequently go hand-in-hand with crime and incarceration. A newly created “jail navigator” position with the Moore County Detention Center will help inmates address these concerns to reduce recidivism and drug overdoses.
Major Andy Conway presented a request approved by the county commissioners on Jan. 5 to reclassify a detention center officer to a sworn deputy, in compliance with new state guidance. The jail navigator will work in partnership with the county’s contracted healthcare vendor, FirstHealth of the Carolinas and the South-Central Regional Opioid Response Consortium (RCORP) program.
“It will be beneficial for one person to direct coordination to ensure accountability,” Conway said.
In September 2020, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services approved a revision of jail rules on how emergency and routine medical care is provided to inmate’s needs related to mental health, development or intellectual disability, dental care, pregnancy, and substance use disorder.
Conway said Firsthealth through its grant-funded RCORP program will provide necessary computer equipment and software so inmates may connect virtually with peer support specialists who can provide counseling for substance abuse disorder.
In 2018, UNC-Chapel Hill public health researchers and representatives with the N.C. Department of Public Safety presented a study that found former inmates within the first few weeks of being released from prison were 40 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than someone in the general population. In particular, heroin overdoses were 74 times more likely in the first two weeks after release.
‘We anticipate the first year will be a learning curve,” Conway said.
As approved, the reclassified sworn deputy position requires an additional $358 increase in pay for the selected employee, in addition to slight increases in 401K and law enforcement officer retirement benefits.
Also Tuesday, county leaders approved a request from Deputy Chief Richard Maness to apply for a $24,500 grant through the Governor’s Crime Commission to purchase new tasers.
“They are a great tool. They are an effective, non-lethal weapon that can save lives and also reduce injuries,” Maness said.
The Moore County Sheriff’s Department maintains approximately 80 tasers; but they have a short lifespan of around five years before they must be replaced, Maness said. The new tasers cost $1,273 each and come with a one-year warranty.
In other discussion last Tuesday, Jan. 5, the Moore County Board of Commissioners:
Proclaimed January 2021 as Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness Month, in coordination with the Friend to Friend organization.
Approved a $189,999 contract with ELJ, Inc. to replace water mains at Columbine Road in the Hyland Hills system and South Street in Vass.
Appointed Commissioner Louis Gregory as the voting delegate and Commissioner Frank Quis as the alternate voting delegate to the NCACC Legislative Goals Conference
Appointed John Boesch to the Airport Authority
Appointed Aulisa Turner and Neil Oakley to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council
Appointed Tim Carpenter to the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees
Appointed Commissioner Catherine Graham to the Board of Directors for Sandhills Center for Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services