Mental health is in the spotlight following three incidents in recent weeks of deputies being assaulted.
On Monday, the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office identified the deputy who shot and killed a woman on Friday afternoon as Corporal Russel Norgren. He has been with the sheriff’s office for almost 20-years and now is on administrative leave.
Also on Monday, the sheriff’s office said the woman who was killed was 35-year-old Angel Alexander, and she was using crystal meth throughout the day, causing her to go into a paranoid state. Her family told News 5 she battled mental health issues.
Sheriff Sam Cochran said on Friday something needs to be done helping mental health across the state. News 5 spoke with Alta-Pointe Health about what the state is doing to help mental health.
The Alabama Department of Mental Health published a legislative budget presentation one day before Angel Alexander fired shots at deputies and was killed by return fire. The ADMH is asking for $18 million, part of which would go to three new crisis centers across the state.
Sheriff Cochran said, “The budgets of the mental health in the state are just struggling…. There needs to be more treatment available to them. We’re putting too many of them in jail when they need to be in a treatment center.”
Sheriff Cochran said this is the third time recently his deputies have been assaulted by someone who was mentally ill. Earlier this month, News 5 spoke with the grandmother of a man with paranoid schizophrenia who was shot and killed after attacking a deputy outside the Semmes Walmart. Rosalie Johnson said, “I think the voices got so many, I think he wanted that to happen.”
The family said they tried to get him help for a long time before that day. Johnson said, “I don’t understand why they didn’t do more for him. Three times they kept him a week and let him go. Give him medicine and let him go.”
News 5 is the first station to speak with Alta-Pointe Health, who deals with mental health in our area, about the funding. CEO Tuerk Schlesinger told News 5 he hopes one of the crisis centers come to Mobile.
Sheriff Sam Cochran echoed those sentiments in an interview on Friday, saying, “I hope one of those regional areas will of course be in Mobile.”
Schlesinger said the centers give professionals the ability to observe people who are in crisis mode and need help through treatment. One issue he said professionals run in to is they cannot make people get treatment unless there is an involuntary commitment.
He said one of the centers is especially needed in Mobile due to a shortage of hospital beds that can accommodate mental health patients. But he says actually getting a crisis center will depend on support from representatives from Mobile, Baldwin, and Washington Counties.