This is part one of a three-part series in an attempt to find answers to the three deaths over two months in 2017.
It all starts with an arrest.
Kingman Police Department recruits are trained for about eight hours to deal with emotionally disturbed persons, seriously mentally ill, and the despondent and suicidal.
“It is something that is on the increase in frequency, and something that we are attempting to provide updated training throughout the year,” said KPD Deputy Chief Rusty Cooper. “Communicating with a person in one or more of these categories requires a different approach than what would otherwise be considered normal. Sensitivity to, and awareness of, this increasing population is something that law enforcement nationwide is adjusting to.”
Arresting officers inform intake officers at the Mohave County Jail of any visual signs of drug or alcohol use, if an arrestee is under the influence or is experiencing withdrawals, or if their behavior suggests they might assault someone or is a threat to themselves.
Arrestees are then booked and receive a physical examination by a registered nurse, said Capt. Don Bischoff, of the Mohave County Jail. This exam covers general health, but there is also a section which addresses mental health and drug use history. The checkup and history check are made in order to note any special needs or accommodations an intake requires.
Intake officers also ask if a person has ever thought of harming themselves or suicide. If there is any positive response, it is the officers’ cue to have that person in front of a nurse as soon as possible. Bischoff said it is not uncommon for inmates to be agitated. They refuse to answer intake officers’ questions, or simply respond yes or no to everything.
“There is a lot of animosity that sometimes carries over,” Bischoff said. “If they’re not happy with the arresting officer, they won’t be happy with the booking officers.”
Bischoff said when they are in the room with the nurse, who is in scrubs and not a uniform, these nurses tend to be less threatening and can often get more honest answers out of inmates, Bischoff said.
The goal, Bischoff said, is to get the screening done within two hours of arrival.
This information is kept and the arrestee is kept in the intake area until their initial court appearance, which usually happens within 24 hours. If the inmate does come back to the jail, they are sorted into general population based on all of the information gathered, Bischoff said.
Classification officers ask more background information, and any rival gangs are housed away from each other. They also take into account the initial health screening to see if an inmate needs to be housed on a lower floor of the housing pod, which usually have two or three floors, due to movement difficulties.
“Our philosophy is to treat inmates here like they are our friends, family and neighbors, because, largely, they are,” Bischoff said. “It’s your county jail. Between 80 and 85 percent have not been found guilty. That’s who makes up the population.”
Part two, “What it takes to run a jail” will run Monday, Jan. 22.