The Cuyahoga County Council committee of the whole heard an update on June 9 on the newly proposed Cuyahoga County Diversion Center, from the Chief of Special Operations, Brandy Carney. The council had not heard an update in more than six months, according to Council President Dan Brady, so there were quite a few updates in Carney’s testimony. Carney first began by explaining that the county hired a consultant to help analyze the jail population, and identify those who could be eligible for diversion from the county jail. The consultant, Pulitzer/Bogard and Associates, LLC, provided a report to the county in January with its findings. The administration then prepared a request for information in which organizations could respond with what they would bring to a potential diversion center. The county received seven responses to that RFI. The administration then released a request for proposals (RFP) on May 29, with a deadline of June 18.
The administration then released a request for proposals (RFP) on May 29, with a deadline of June 18.
In the RFP, explained Carney, the county listed mandates about what the diversion center should look like. The facility would need to have at least 50 beds and at most 150 beds. Services provided at the facility would include detoxification, administration of medication, sobriety and counseling. The facility would be a pre-booking center used only by law enforcement, meaning that if a police officer feels that a citizen needs mental health services, they would have the option to bring them to the diversion center instead of to the county jail. The county prosecutor’s office is establishing policies under which people would be allowed to go the diversion center instead of jail, as well as policies about what would happen if individuals do not complete the diversion center program. Carney also said that the county could potentially look at post-booking facilities, such as the diversion center in Fairfax County, or facilities where families could drop off those in need of mental health services. He said right now the county is focused exclusively on a facility that is only for pre-booking and only used by law enforcement. Carney said that the county has not yet made a decision on whether there would be only one new diversion center, or if there is the possibility of creating two locations – one on the east side and one on the west side of the county. County officials said that they will wait to see what the proposals look like before moving forward. It also remains to be seen if the diversion center(s) will be standalone buildings or if they will be integrated into an existing building or system.
Cuyahoga County Council had approved $2.5 million of the opioid settlement funding to be used for the new diversion center.
Cuyahoga County Council had approved $2.5 million of the opioid settlement funding to be used for the new diversion center. Councilmembers did not have many questions, but were curious if the maximum number of beds was too low for the population. Councilwoman Nan Baker asked if the 150-bed maximum is too low, and would have to be increased, to which Carney said that the county is hoping to stay at a 150-bed maximum to keep things “manageable” for now.
Community Solutions will follow the diversion center conversations closely as they move forward.