Thomasville Times Enterprise

January 26, 2013

Sheriff: 'The elephant in the room'

Patti Dozier
CNHI

THOMASVILLE — Patients in Georgia mental institutions are being moved quickly and methodically into local communities, according to Thomas County’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer.

People in Thomas County and throughout Georgia need to know what is happening, Thomas County Sheriff Carlton Powell said.

“It’s like the elephant in the room. Nobody talks about it,” Powell explained after a recent legislative forum hosted by the Thomas County Republican Party.

And, the sheriff said, patients are being moved into more upscale housing.

Mental patients who take their medication can function in a community, he said, adding, “Not all will get out and commit a crime.”

However, if someone gets out and stops taking their medication, the individual might have to return to a state hospital, then to the community, Powell said.

“What happens involves law enforcement, and the first person they call is the sheriff’s office,” he said.

See Sunday's edition for more details.