Multiple Lincoln community organizations are coming together to fill a gap left by The Bridge Behavioral Health

LINCOLN, Nebraska – Multiple community organizations are coming together to fill a void left by The Bridge Behavioral Health, which allowed contracts with law enforcement for Civil Protective Custody to expire this fall. Stakeholders have told 10/11 NOW that so far, things are going well with the new initiative, and they believe it will be successful in the long run.

“It’s not an issue anybody wanted, but it definitely hasn’t been a bad process,” said Lancaster County Commissioner Sean Flowerday. “It’s not a problem anybody wanted.”

When someone is brought into civil protective custody for being under the influence of alcohol, they will now be transferred to one of two non-profit organizations to be cared for. First, whether they are being investigated for driving under the influence or just need to be reconnected with a person who is safe and sober, they will be taken to a trailer called LinkPointe, which is located at the intersection of 6th and J streets. It consists of two separate rooms and is staffed by CenterPointe employees. The first step is for the officers to wrap up their respective investigations and then turn them over to the crisis counselors.

According to Amber Dirks, the Senior Director of Community Response for CenterPointe, “We perform some basic vitals to make sure that they are medically stable, screen for suicide, obtain some information, and finish our paperwork before bringing them over to this side.” “We will provide them with some fundamental food items as well as something to drink, and we will let them know that they are free to sit in any of these seats while they wait for somebody to come pick them up or until they reach.07,”

Between the months of October and the middle of December, 78 individuals had participated in LinkPointe, and Dirks reported that it had been successful.

The People’s City Mission Curtis Center is a transitional housing facility with private rooms. If an individual does not have a permanent residence and is in need of a secure place to sleep while under the influence of alcohol, the police will transport them there. Ten rooms have been rented out by the county, and there have been a total of 28 persons using those rooms.

Pastor Tom Barber shared their perspective, saying, “It’s gone okay, you know there have been a few glitches, a few broken windows, and stuff but for the most part it’s gone pretty nicely and we’ve been able to help.”

In the event that neither of these locations is suitable, anyone who poses a risk to the safety of others will be transported to the Lancaster County Jail, while those who are experiencing a medical emergency will be taken to the hospital. According to Lincoln Police Chief Teresa Ewins, this has always been the standard procedure. Flowerday went on to say that neither the hospital nor the jail has witnessed a significant rise in the number of patients who have been admitted.

The non-profit organizations have had to make certain adjustments as a result of these changes. To ensure that the Curtis Center is staffed at all times, the People’s City Mission needed to recruit two more individuals.

According to Barber, because of this, “we need to check on them every 15 minutes and make sure that they are okay.” “That is the most important concern, which is just their own health.”

However, Barber stated that he wanted to become engaged because their team is already working with the population of people who are without housing and because of their past, they will frequently have stronger relationships and more positive experiences with those individuals. He also stated that the resources they already possess make the necessary adjustment rather simple to implement.

Barber described the relationship as “sort of a natural affinity.”

It was necessary for Centerpointe to bring on three more staff members in order for them to maintain a 24-hour availability, but according to Dirks, this new opportunity would only help them accomplish their goals.

“We truly want to adopt a harm reduction approach with individuals, and this is just another element of the epidemic,” said Dirks. “We’re trying to help people in their time of need by meeting them where they are and providing them with a safe atmosphere.”

The county is responsible for covering the cost of the rooms at the Curtis Center as well as the requisite number of additional staff members.

Flowerday said, “We live in a special community here in Lincoln Lancaster County, and we are blessed with a wide swath of community organizations and community partners who are willing to step up to the table and address these problems as they come up.” “We are blessed with a wide swath of community organizations and community partners who are willing to step up to the table and address these problems as they come up.”

Ewins stated that cops always try to link persons caught for driving under the influence with a responsible person first. However, having options such as LinkPointe and the People’s City Mission available has helped more than 70 percent of people arrested for DUIs remain out of jail. She stated that cops had accepted 107 individuals into the new program thus far.

“This kind of program has enabled our officers to have access to locations for care for folks who have been cited for DUIs or who have been found to be intoxicated on the streets,” Ewins said. “Also, we are able to provide wrap-around services.” “Wrap-around programs are relatively new, but they are essential if we want to assist people in their road to recovery.”

While all parties involved have expressed satisfaction with the newly implemented Civil Protective Custody procedure, preparations are currently being made to transform the former Lincoln Police garage located at the intersection of 6th and J into a permanent structure that can house a facility similar to LinkPointe. There is no set date for when this structure will become accessible to the public. According to Ewins, the county is moving forward with the appropriate actions in this process to assist this demographic while also putting an emphasis on education.

According to what Ewins had to say, “We will continue to work with the city and the community to give knowledge and alternatives for folks who find themselves in these situations.”

Ewins further mentioned that children who are placed in the custody of the Civil Protective Service are transported to Cedar’s so that they can be kept safe and away from adults at all times.

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