DENVER — Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said he plans to tackle the mental health issues in the county and the state after the deadly shooting on New Year’s Eve in Highlands Ranch.
Newly released body camera video from the ambush shows deputies Zackari Parrish and Taylor Davis were going to place an M1 hold on Matthew Riehl because he was going through a manic episode.
Under Colorado law, if someone is mentally ill and an imminent danger to themselves or others, officers have the right to take them into custody and place them in a facility for a 72-hour treatment evaluation.
But the shooter opened fire before deputies could intervene.
“There are nearly 40,000 folks in Colorado who are placed on M1 holds every year, so this is not a small problem,” said Andrew Romanoff, president and CEO of Mental Health Colorado.
It’s a problem Romanoff said needs to be addressed head-on.
Only law enforcement or health professionals can place someone on a hold, not a family member. He said there are warning signs that typically appear in adolescence.
“Let’s train teachers to spot some of these symptoms, not to treat or diagnose mental illness but at least to become more familiar with the signs. Let’s put more mental health professionals in our schools,” Romanoff said.
It’s known Riehl deflected treatment and went off his medication.
Romanoff said there’s no easy answer, but encouraging them to get help and having more resources available is the first step in tackling the issue.
“Now the challenge for us is to get more services in place for more people, before it’s too late,” Romanoff said.
Romanoff said the majority of people with mental illness are not committing crimes, in fact they are more likely to be victims of crime.
If you or someone you know is dealing with a mental health issue, you’re urged to call the crisis line 844-493-TALK.
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