Resource issues pose a dilemma

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By Carol A. Clark

Some 35 officers and five reserve officers were mobilized to assist during Wednesday and Thursday’s 19-hour standoff with Richard Morse, said Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy said.
“The bigger picture here is the lack of mental health resources in New Mexico,” Torpy said after Morse was safely in custody. “Police should never have had to be involved — this man should never have had to wait more than three months for a bed at the psychiatric hospital.”
Program Director Cheryl Pongratz of the Family Strengths Network said her agency has referred 29 individuals to a psychiatrist this past year.
The psychiatrist mainly sees private pay patients but thanks to the Northern New Mexico Heath Grant Group, the referees were seen under grants.
“Unfortunately people must agree to be referred and the law makes it extremely difficult to force a person into treatment if they refuse,” Pongratz said. “That was an issue in the recent Tucson shootings — everyone knew the man had an issue but it was very difficult to make him go to treatment.”
For information contact Los Alamos Family Council at 662-3264; Crisis Response Hotline, 888-920-6333; mental health information 800-789-2647.