February 6, 2019

Update on services for detective, route, where to watch, how to donate

Detective Bill Brewer

Detective Bill Brewer, 42, a Clermont County deputy sheriff, lost his life in the line of duty on Feb. 2.

Here is the latest information we have:

Services: Family and friends are invited to a public visitation from 4-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at Mount Carmel Christian Church, 4110 Bach Buxton Road, Batavia, OH 45103, under the direction of E.C. Nurre Funeral Home in Amelia.  Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the church. Interment will follow at Pierce Township Cemetery.

E.C. Nurre Funeral Home link 

Visitation parking: Primary parking will be available at West Clermont High School 4-8 p.m. Thursday. Parking WILL NOT be available at West Clermont Middle School because of parent/teacher conferences.

Overflow parking is available at Pierce Point Cinema 10 (1255 Ohio Pike). Clermont Transportation Connection will run shuttles between the theater parking lot and the church, starting at 4 p.m.

Where to view funeral: Crossroads East Side, next to Jungle Jim’s, is opening its auditorium Friday so that the public can view Detective Brewer’s services. The church will open its doors at 9 a.m. Friday, with screening expected to start at 11 a.m.

The auditorium and performing arts center at West Clermont High School and Middle School have been reserved for law enforcement officers and first responders. The public SHOULD NOT go there.

From home or office: WKRC Local 12, WLWT Channel 5, WXIX Fox 19, and  WCPO Channel 9 will provide live broadcast coverage and streaming coverage of the funeral service. The Cincinnati Enquirer will provide live streaming coverage.

Clermont Public Library: All 10 library branches will live stream the funeral service beginning at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 8. The public is welcome.

Processional route:

Leaving from the church
Left onto Bach-Buxton
Left onto Clough
Left onto Main Street in Batavia
Merge onto West 32
Merge onto South I-275
Exit onto Beechmont Avenue (SR 125)
Right onto Merwin Ten Mile
Right onto Locust Corner Road
Enter into cemetery where transfer from the hearse to the horse-drawn caisson will take place; caisson will proceed to the grave.

Note: The American Legion is asking people to line the processional route with American flags.

Where to donate: The Bill Brewer Memorial Fund, to help Detective Brewer’s family, has been set up at Park National Bank. Individuals may drop off donations at any Park National branch or can mail a check to Bill Brewer Memorial Fund, Park National Bank, 1187 Ohio Pike, Amelia OH 45102.

Many county offices will be closed Friday. Read more here.

February 6, 2019

Commissioner Painter honors the life of Detective Brewer

Feb. 6, 2019

Commissioner David Painter, President of the Board of County Commissioners, opened today’s session with these remarks about Detective Bill Brewer, who was killed in the line of duty Feb. 2:

On Saturday February 2nd, Deputy Nick DeRose and Deputy William Brewer responded along with Clermont County Special Response Team to a call for help from a 23 year old man. The two deputies sustained gunshot wounds as a result of their commitment to serve and protect the citizens of Clermont County. Lt. DeRose was later treated and released from the hospital, returning to work later that Sunday. Lt. DeRose was shot twice, once in the lower leg and another that struck his utility belt and protective vest preventing a life-threatening injury. He is a true testament to the resolve of the department. Detective William Brewer sustained life ending injuries as a result of his commitment to serve. I pray that Lt. DeRose has a speedy recovery.

Today, the Board of Clermont County Commissioners honor and mourn the loss of Detective William Brewer of the Clermont County Sheriff’s office. On behalf of the Board we extend our deepest condolences to Bill’s family and thank them for sharing him with us.

Bill and Nick spent over 20 years protecting and helping the citizens of Clermont County. On that Saturday, Bill along with his partner Lt. Nick DeRose, answered a call for help whereby Bill and Nick sustained gunshot injuries. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friend. Bill and Nick’s selfless courage goes well beyond God’s word in that they both were willing to lay down their lives for a man they did not know. Bill gave his life that evening in an effort to help. William Brewer was that kind of guy.

Bill was a son, a brother, a husband, a dad, and a beloved family member. He leaves behind his loving wife Jamie, his beloved son Braxton, his brother Michael, his parents Bill and Angie, his in-laws, his nieces, his nephews, his Clermont County Deputy family and all the citizens of Clermont County that he took an oath to protect.

There are a few professions whereby a man is required to commit his life to the protection of others. Bill was a Clermont County Deputy. Once a Deputy, always a Deputy. To the 200,000 residents of Clermont County, Bill will always be our Deputy.

To Bill’s wife and son, there are no words that I can speak to answer the question why such a tragedy as this is allowed to happen. For God’s plan is so vast that even if he were to show it to us, we wouldn’t understand it. Rest assured that there are two people that now understand his plan and one of them is Bill. May God comfort you in your time of loss. Our prayers are with you.

 

 

February 6, 2019

Clermont County courts, other offices to close Friday for detective’s services

Detective Bill Brewer

BATAVIA, Ohio (Feb. 6, 2019) – All Clermont County courts and many county offices will be closed Friday, Feb. 8, to allow employees to attend, view or participate in services for Sheriff’s Detective Bill Brewer, who lost his life in the line of duty on Feb. 2.

CLOSED

Sheriff’s Office: Administrative offices close at noon Thursday and all day Friday.

Common Pleas Court: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday. This also includes Probation, Law Library, and Court Services.

Juvenile Court/Probate Court: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday.

Prosecutor’s Office: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday.

Domestic Relations Court: Closes at 2 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday. All hearings will be scheduled to the next available time.

Board of County Commissioners’ office, and departments including Water Resources Administration Building, Building Inspection, Permit Central, Job & Family Services, OhioMeansJobs/Clermont County, and Department of Community & Economic Development: Closed Friday.

Municipal Court: Closed Friday. Those who have an arraignment scheduled for Friday will be sent a new court date. They can also check the Clermontclerk.org website for updated information.

Common Pleas Clerk’s Office, Domestic Relations Clerk and all auto title offices: Closed Friday.

Public Defender’s Office: Closed Friday.

Auditor’s Office: Closed Friday.

Recorder’s Office: Closed Friday.

Engineer’s Office: Closed Friday.

Public Health: Closed Friday.

Coroner’s Office: Closed Friday; on call at 513.543.0129.

OPEN

Some county offices will be open, including the Treasurer’s Office, which is accepting payments for first-half property taxes, which are due Feb. 13. The Municipal Clerk of Court Office will be open Friday. The Board of Elections office will be open Friday.

Bus service in Clermont County, including Dial-A-Ride, will operate normally.

The county website, www.clermontcountyohio.gov, has separate pages for each county office, including how to contact them. Check there if you have questions on whether an office is open or closed.

Services for Detective Brewer are as follows:

Family and friends are invited to a public visitation from 4-8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7, at Mount Carmel Christian Church, 4110 Bach Buxton Rd, Batavia, OH 45103, under the direction of E.C. Nurre Funeral Home in Amelia. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the church. Interment will follow at Pierce Township Cemetery.

February 3, 2019

Commissioners join county in mourning loss of Detective Brewer

BATAVIA, Ohio – Today, Clermont County Commissioners join all the elected officials and employees of Clermont County in mourning a brave deputy sheriff who lost his life in the line of duty.

Commissioners extend their deepest condolences to the family of Clermont Sheriff’s Detective Bill Brewer, and thank him and Lt. Nick DeRose, who was injured, for their bravery.

On Saturday, Feb. 2, around 10:30 p.m., Detective Brewer and Lt. DeRose were shot by a male who had barricaded himself in his apartment in Pierce Township and was threatening to kill himself.

Detective Bill Brewer

Detective Brewer, a 20-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was transported to Anderson Mercy Hospital, where he later died as a result of the gunshot wounds he sustained. Deputy Brewer is survived by his wife and a 5-year-old son.

Lt. Nick DeRose, a 22-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was transported to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and was later released.

The suspect was taken into custody.

Lt. Nick DeRose

“There is no greater love than a man to lay down his life for a friend. Detective Brewer laid down his life in service for our citizens. Please lift his family up in prayer,” said Commissioner David Painter, President of the Board of County Commissioners. “Our deepest condolences go to the family of Detective Brewer, who bravely gave his life in the line of duty.

“We thank Lt. DeRose, whose injuries were, thankfully, not serious. We thank all the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office and our local police departments and fire departments who responded throughout the night to work together to bring this situation under control.

“Our hearts are heavy today for this loss to our community. We send our prayers to the families of Detective Brewer and Lt. DeRose,” Commissioner Painter added.

Said Commissioner Ed Humphrey, Vice President of the BCC, “This is a sad day for Clermont County and for the brave men and women of our Sheriff’s Office. Every day, with courage and dedication, they go out into the community to keep us safe, never knowing what the day may bring. Today, it brought tragedy and a loss that is beyond understanding. We can’t thank Detective Brewer and his family enough for his ultimate sacrifice. God bless him, Lt. DeRose and our entire department of first responders.”

Commissioner Claire Corcoran said, “Words cannot adequately capture the grief in our hearts today. Detective Bill Brewer gave his life in the pursuit of protecting our community and Lt. Nick DeRose was wounded. How can we explain the shock and pain we feel at this terrible outcome? All we can really do is keep Detective Brewer and his family in our thoughts and prayers and hope that we never again experience this kind of tragic event.”

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October 16, 2018

Clermont County Opiate Task Force votes to oppose Issue 1

BATAVIA, Ohio – The Clermont County Opiate Task Force voted to oppose Issue 1 at its meeting on Oct. 11.

The task force is comprised of stakeholders representing county government, agencies and the courts (Commissioners, Clermont County Public Health, Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (MHRB), Municipal Court Probation, Common Pleas Court Probation, Public Defender, Children’s Protective Services, County Sheriff); Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services; Clermont Mercy Hospital; law enforcement and fire/EMS departments; faith-based organizations and private citizens.

The Opiate Task Force’s statement declared: “The Clermont County Opiate Task Force (OTF) firmly believes that individuals with a substance use disorder benefit from treatment, and that recovery is possible. The OTF opposes this constitutional amendment because it does not address the problem as intended. Issue 1 polarizes the relationship between treatment and criminal justice, when in fact criminal justice and treatment work hand in hand to assist individuals with reaching recovery. Issue 1 will hinder the ability of the criminal justice system to work to assure that individuals who need treatment will receive it and maintain it. Along with the Clermont County Commissioners, our criminal justice partners, including the Clermont County Police Chief’s and Sheriff’s Association, and the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, the OTF implores the Ohio General Assembly to immediately bring together a bipartisan coalition of concerned Ohioans to take action to address the issue of increased treatment services for offenders through a legislative solution, not a constitutional amendment. The OTF strongly encourages all community members to become well informed about Issue 1.”

At the meeting, a panel including Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride, Assistant Prosecutor Darren Miller, Sheriff Steve Leahy, Commissioners Ed Humphrey and David Painter, and Karen Scherra, Executive Director of MHRB, spoke out against Issue 1 and detailed the impact it would have on the county courts, law enforcement and the County Jail, and taxpayers.

Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride noted that both Municipal and Common Pleas Court judges work with lesser offenders to get them into treatment instead of jail or prison. “The reality is that less and less F4s and F5s (felony offenders) go to prison every day,” he said. “For years now, the emphasis in drug possession has been on treatment.”

Karen Scherra of the Mental Health & Recovery Board said that although her board is in favor of legislative reforms, it opposes Issue 1. “We do not see treatment increasing under Issue 1,” she said. “It’s often the stick of criminal justice that gets people into treatment.” She noted that her board has worked closely with county partners in criminal justice as well as the Commissioners to come up with initiatives in the battle against the opioid problems in the county. “If this passes we will watch a system that we worked really hard to build up collapse,” she said.

On Oct.3, the Clermont County Commissioners passed a resolution opposing Issue 1.

(This article was revised on Oct. 30, 2018.)

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April 27, 2018

Former employee to repay county for misused funds on credit card

BATAVIA, Ohio (April 27, 2018) — In a Clermont County Common Pleas Court appearance on April 25, Mary Ann Belt, former executive assistant in Water Resources Department (WRD),  agreed to repay Clermont County $10,841.65 for gift cards and other items inappropriately charged to a Lowe’s credit card.

Ms. Belt will also plead guilty to a fifth degree felony theft, according to Assistant County Prosecutor Katie Terpstra. The case has been continued until June 4.

Here is a timeline of events:

Ms. Belt was an executive assistant in the water department in 2016-17. Among her responsibilities was paying some of the water department invoices. Previously, she had worked in customer service in the same department since 2012.

 Water Resources Director Lyle Bloom was notified on Oct. 19, 2017, by Duke Energy that several of the water department’s accounts with Duke were past due. The Clermont County Auditor’s Office had also alerted the water department that a number of late payments had been made to Duke.

Mr. Bloom investigated the past-due bills and found that Clermont County had paid approximately $10,000 in late payment charges over 2016-17 to Duke Energy. These particular accounts were the responsibility of Ms. Belt.

Other vendors she was responsible for were also paid late. Duke Energy was the only vendor that charged a late fee.

Ms. Belt had a disciplinary hearing, and was terminated by the county on Nov. 15, 2017, for failing to discharge her responsibilities correctly.

During this time, the Auditor’s Office and the water department worked together to ensure that all accounts that were past due were paid and that vendors would be paid in a timely manner going forward.

After her termination, Ms. Belt’s emails were forwarded to two other executive assistants in the department who assumed her responsibilities.

They noticed that a county credit card account at Lowe’s that was in Ms. Belt’s name had a number of gift cards on it. Further investigation found that she had opened up online a Lowe’s credit card for herself while she was opening cards for three water treatment employees.

A check of previous statements found that a total of $10,841.65 had been charged to Lowe’s that appeared to be for personal use, including gift cards.

In Clermont County, all spending on credit cards must be approved by a supervisor who sees an invoice. It appeared that Ms. Belt falsified invoices, or put in invoices twice.

Shortly after Ms. Belt was terminated, the county asked the Sheriff’s Office to investigate this matter. The results of the investigation were turned over to the Prosecutor’s Office. Ms. Belt was charged with felony theft and was indicted on Feb. 6, 2018.

Prior to the indictment, the office of the State Auditor began its annual audit of Clermont County. At the time, the office of the County Auditor informed the State Auditor that there was a case under investigation that involved possible misuse of county funds. In a separate meeting, the Auditor and Prosecutor’s Office met with the State Auditor’s representatives on this matter.

Mr. Bloom has instituted new practices in his department. All Lowe’s cards have been pulled. Supervisors must now match the hard-copy invoice to the screen invoice before approving.

In addition, most departments and offices in the county now use procurement cards, which have limits on the kinds of transactions, the number of transactions, and the monetary amount of transactions that can be made.

The investigation involved many county offices – Water Resources, the Office of Management and Budget, the County Auditor, the Sheriff’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office – who worked diligently to address the matter.

“We took prompt action to terminate Ms. Belt’s employment once we discovered the pattern of late payments,” said County Administrator Tom Eigel. “And as soon as we detected other irregularities, we turned that information over to the Sheriff’s Office.  We’re pleased that Ms. Belt has agreed to pay Clermont County restitution. I am confident that the practices instituted will help prevent a similar issue in the future.”

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March 16, 2018

Clermont County holding open houses in April – public is invited

BATAVIA, Ohio – Interested in learning more about county government? Have you ever seen a K-9 team in action? Do you want to find out more about the county’s Opiate Task Force? If so, please join us in April during National County Government Month.

Clermont County will hold several open houses and activities during the month.

The public is invited and is asked to register at https://clermontcountyohio.gov//national-county-government-month or call Kathleen Williams at 513.732.7597, or email her at kwilliams@clermontcountyohio.gov.

Saturday, April 7

Celebrate the outdoors at Sycamore Park

10 a.m.-noon: Nest Fest at Sycamore Park. Learn how to identify bird eggs and nests, use your “owl eyes” for our egg hunt and meet birds of prey up close thanks to our friends at RAPTOR Inc.

Address: 4082 SR 132, Batavia

Meet your new pet

1-2 p.m.: Meet the folks at the Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society animal shelter, 4025 Filager Road, Batavia. The new managers of the animal shelter will talk about their philosophy and initiatives. You can also meet the dogs and cats available for adoption.

Address: 4025 Filager Road, Batavia

Thursday, April 12

Celebrating successes in the opiate epidemic fight

2-3:30 p.m.: Join Clermont County’s Opiate Task Force as it celebrates Ohio’s ‘A Week of Appreciation, Batavia Township Community Center. Learn more about the task force’s accomplishments, initiatives and resources as it thanks those who have been on the front lines of fighting this epidemic. Light refreshments.

Address: Batavia Township Community Center, 1535 Clough Pike, Batavia

Saturday, April 14

Rendezvous on the River

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.:  Help the Clermont County Park District celebrate spring and National County Government Month with the season-opening event at Chilo Lock 34 Park. We’ll have food, fun and special guests on every floor of the Visitors Center from noon to 3 p.m.  Enjoy the playground, hike the trails and watch the mighty Ohio River from the boat ramp or the observation deck all day long.

Address:  521 County Park Road, Chilo (off U.S. 52)

Thursday, April 19

Ensuring public health

2-3 p.m.: Public Health is more than just flu shots. Visit your Public Health officials at the Clermont County Public Health Nursing Division to see what it takes to protect the health of Clermont County and its residents.

Birth certificates, flu shots, septic system inspections, plumbing permits, restaurant inspections, WIC, free car seats for needy families, and reducing drug overdoses in the community are just a few of the things that Public Health does. Stop by for an open house and talk to your public health department.

Address:  2400 Clermont Center Drive, Suite 200, Batavia

Enforcing laws & protecting citizens

6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.:  Tour the Sheriff’s Office. See the Crime Lab. In the parking lot, see a demonstration by the K-9 unit, and the Special Response Team – including a robot used in dangerous situations.

Address: 4470 SR 222, Batavia – please park in adjacent Municipal Court parking lot

Saturday, April 21

Spring Litter Clean-Up

This annual volunteer event is held in communities throughout Clermont County. Appreciate our county’s beauty? Volunteer to be part of this countywide event – whether in cities, townships and villages, along the Little Miami and East Fork, or at East Fork State Park. Find out more information here: https://www.springlittercleanup.com/. #GreenClermont

Tuesday, April 24

Protecting our water & environment

10-11:30 a.m.: Tour the Bob McEwen Water Treatment Plant and learn how water from Harsha Lake becomes drinking water. And learn more about how we are protecting our watershed from the Office of Environmental Quality and Soil & Water Conservation District. #GreenClermont

Address: 3960 Greenbriar Road, Batavia

Disability awareness

4-6 p.m.:  Learn about services offered by the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities, as well as other agencies in the Tri-State area that serve children and adults with disabilities.  Members of the Clermont County Voices self-advocacy group will be available to give facility tours and answer questions about the challenges they have faced in their everyday lives.

Address:  2040 US Highway 50, Batavia

#LeadingTheWay
#CountiesMatter

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November 28, 2017

Body scanner at County Jail has made it safer

BATAVIA, Ohio (Nov. 28, 2017) – The installation of a Soter RS body scanner in July at the Clermont County Jail has led to a safer environment for both inmates and staff, according to Capt. Mike McConnell, chief of operations at the jail.

“Inmates always have and always will attempt to bring in items that they can’t have and are not permitted to have into the facility, whether it’s tobacco, drugs, weapons. And whether it’s in their body cavities, or their mouth, they will attempt to do it,” McConnell said. “That makes it very difficult for us to find it with normal pat searches and strip searches.”

Now, every inmate who is entering the jail – including trustees returning from outside assignments – must be scanned.

The scanner works similarly to an airport scanner, McConnell said. The inmate stands on a platform, which moves across a low-dose X-ray beam. Two hundred scans are the equivalent of an X-ray, he said.

Corrections officers go through training before they operate the scanner. They are trained to look for anomalies, McConnell said. Since the installation, officers have found lighters, heroin, and, in one case, a diamond ring.

When McConnell called the arresting officer to say they saw something that looked like a ring, the arresting officer told them it was evidence. The inmate had been charged in a breaking-and-entering, and had swallowed the ring.

The scanner cost approximately $187,000, and was paid for through the jail’s commissary fund. The commissary fund is generated by purchases made by inmates, and these funds have to be used for items that will benefit inmates, McConnell said.

“With the few things we’ve found already, we know that the body scanner has done its job,” he said.

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August 24, 2017

Partnerships are key between jail and mental health community

Renae Butcher and Denny Moell, of Child Focus’s Mobile Crisis Team. Their work is funded by MHRB.

BATAVIA, Ohio (Aug. 24, 2017) — Partnerships are crucial when it comes to dealing with mental health issues among inmates at the County Jail, said Administrator Joe Palmer.

“I don’t know how we could operate now without our wonderful partners,” he said.

Those partners include the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board, whose levy funds the Mobile Crisis Team. (Mobile Crisis is operated by Child Focus Inc.) Renae Butcher, a social worker from Mobile Crisis, is now working full time at the jail, helping to assess inmates who appear to be dealing with a mental illness.

The Mobile Crisis Team also assists the Mental Health and Recovery Board in providing Crisis Intervention Training to law enforcement and corrections officers in Clermont County, teaching them through role-playing and other exercises how to react to and work with those who show signs of mental illness when they are responding to a call, or encounter them in jail. At least 60% of corrections officers have completed the training.

Another partner is Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services (GCB), which has two locations in Clermont County, one for mental health services in Amelia and the Clermont Recovery Center for addiction services in Batavia.

Recently, a memorandum of understanding between the County Jail and GCB allows the sharing of a database between the two. This allows corrections officers to determine whether a new inmate is a GCB client. “Joe Smith comes in, we put him in our system and cross-check with GCB,” Palmer says, giving an example. “We notify GCB – Joe Smith is here, you can come see him. Now we know what medications he needs, we know what his particular mental health issue is. It’s a win-win for everybody.” (A legal opinion from the Hamilton County Prosecutor said this did not violate doctor-patient privilege.)

“If you have mental health issues, you do not leave here without a referral to Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services,” Palmer added. “A case worker will come here to see you before your discharge. We’re doing our very best to make sure that your mental health needs are provided for.”

A grant just awarded to MHRB from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services has allowed for Butcher’s position to move from part-time to full-time at the jail, and will allow GCB to hire a full-time case manager to work with inmates upon their release from jail, connecting them to treatment options.

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August 24, 2017

At County Jail, inmates suffering from mental illness are treated with care

Jail Administrator Joe Palmer

BATAVIA, Ohio (Aug. 24, 2017) – It’s no secret that jails in the United States have become homes, and sometimes havens, to those with mental illness. National studies have shown that nearly 15% of men and 30% of women booked into jails have a serious mental health condition, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Clermont County has long recognized that and was one of the first counties in the nation to join the “Stepping Up” Initiative developed by the National Association of Counties (NACo) to reduce the number of people with mental illness in jail. According to Karen Scherra, Executive Director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board (MHRB), “Clermont County’s collaborative efforts to address this issue have been recognized at the state and federal level and have assisted many individuals with getting needed treatment services.”

Now, a grant for $83,333 that MHRB was awarded from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will put more resources toward screening and possible diversion of those with mental illness into treatment programs.

Every day, corrections officers at the Clermont County Jail encounter inmates who have a mental illness. In 2016, an average of 22 people were put on suicide watch every month at the County Jail. The jail has strict protocols it follows to make sure that inmates who have mental health issues are treated appropriately. But first and foremost, is the philosophy behind it, said jail Administrator Joseph Palmer: “You are not here to die,” he said. “We will do everything possible to preserve your humanity.”

Screening for mental illness

All corrections officers are instructed in how to screen inmates for mental illness, and are trained on how to work with people in crisis. They also depend on the expertise of social worker Renae Butcher, a member of the Clermont County Mobile Crisis Team. The grant has allowed her to move from part time to full time at the jail, where she screens inmates for possible mental illness and works with them during crises. The grant will also allow a full-time case manager to be hired who will connect inmates with resources as they are released.

Additionally, medical staff at the jail includes a nurse who specializes in mental health, and a psychiatrist who visits the jail twice a month, and is available to take nurses’ calls at any time.

It all begins, says Palmer, with a screening form at inmate intake. “If someone is suffering from psychosis or DTs (delirium tremens), we will know that and they will be refused admittance,” he said. “We don’t have to accept you,” he said. “We must be able to accept you safely and securely.”

“One of the basic things we do is ask, does this person need to be in a hospital instead of a jail?” said Denny Moell, who heads the Mobile Crisis Team, which is managed by Child Focus Inc. and funded by MHRB. “We evaluate and assess them. Most of the time, they can stay in jail. Sometimes we refer them for further evaluation at Summit Behavioral Health in Hamilton County. Summit can do a longer-term admission. They have a forensic unit – so they can handle those who are coming from jail.”

Added Butcher: “If the inmate seems suicidal, we see if we can get them calmed down. Can we keep them in jail safely, or do we need to move them to Mercy Clermont or Summit?”  So far in 2017, nine inmates have been referred to Summit.

Suicide watch precautions

There are two levels of suicide watch at the jail. “If we even SUSPECT you’re suicidal, you’re put on Level 1 or Level 2 watch immediately,” Palmer said.

The Sheriff’s Office has a set of policies that outline procedures to take whenever an inmate is placed on Level 1 or Level 2 watch. These include securing the inmate, administering first aid and summoning medical assistance, completing a questionnaire with the inmate, and removing any clothing items that might assist in suicide. Inmates are issued safe gowns and blankets and are placed in holding cells.

For a Level 1 watch, inmates are checked at least every 10 minutes. For a Level 2 watch, they are put in a cell in front of the booking area and continuously monitored.

Palmer says the sheriff’s protocols err on the side of protecting life. “We put more people on a Level 1 or Level 2 watch than any other medium-level jail in Ohio,” he said. “The Chief of Operations for the Department of Corrections told us that. ‘The inspector says, you don’t take any chances, do you?’ And I said, ‘No, no chances with a human life.’”

The Sheriff’s Office contracts with Southern Health Partners for all medical, dental and mental health services at the jail. The current two-year contract for 2017-2019 is $1.65 million. This includes nursing staff – at least one nurse at all times, and sometimes as many as three; a mental health nurse twice a week, and a psychiatrist twice a month. The psychiatrist can prescribe psychotropic drugs over the phone should an inmate need them, Palmer said.

“While you are here, we are going to do our very best to make sure that your mental health needs are provided for,” Palmer said. “Because we’re dealing with a person’s life.”

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