BATH COUNTY, Va. (WTVR)–As tragic truths come to light about what happened inside the home of state senator Creigh Deeds Tuesday morning, a new focus centers in on the role mental illness plays.
Published reports and confirmation from family friends of the Deeds indicate that Deeds’ son Gus was served an Emergency Custody Order.
An ECO means his behavior indicated he was a danger to himself or others so he was ordered to have a mental evaluation. The Bath County Sheriff also confirmed with CBS 6 that deputies made a visit to the home on Monday.
Henrico Sheriff Mike Wade often sees folks in situations like Deeds who end up in the custody of his deputies.
“Sometimes we can guard someone for ten to twelve hours before they can find a bed for them,” Wade said.
Wade contends that an ECO can present a difficult situation because legally authorities only have four hours to evaluate someone and place them in a facility before that person is free to walk away.
“You know you’re really stuck with violating the law because the law says you can only hold them for four hours,” said Wade.
CLICK VIDEO FOR TUESDAY 11 P.M. UPDATE: Deeds’ condition, investigation, and recap
Wade says across the state of Virginia there is a significant shortage of resources for mental health patients, specifically when it comes to finding a bed in a facility. Wade claims his deputies will regularly drive several hours to transport someone to the closest available bed in the state.
Just a year ago, the Virginia Office of the State Inspector General examined the frequency with which temporary detention orders are not issued because there is not a facility to accept the patient.
During the 90-day period, the office found that 72 people were turned away despite the fact that they met the criteria to be involuntarily held for treatment.
In Gus Deeds’ case, there was no bed to available, so he could not be held involuntarily past four hours.
We contacted Rockbridge Area Community Services facility in Lexington Virginia, where it is believed that Gus deeds was evaluated.
Executive director Dennis Cropper first expressed his condolences to the Deeds family. We then asked if a bed shortage could have been why Gus Deeds was sent home, Cropper wouldn’t give specifics, but did offer an explanation for the four hour rule.
“Within those four hours, if a mental health professional determines that they need a psychiatric bed space, they have to use those same four hours to locate a receiving facility,” Cropper said.
“In certain conditions a two-hour extension is granted by a magistrate, but under no circumstances can a person be held beyond six hours involuntarily under an ECO.”