(2-11-16) Fairfax County, Virginia, officially announced today that its Diversion First effort to reduce the number of persons with mental illnesses in the county jail by diverting low risk offenders into community based treatment is up-and-running. This is tremendous news. It was even sweeter news for me because my son, Kevin, was asked to speak at this morning’s news conference about the importance of jail diversion. I am proud that he is a member of the county’s jail diversion team.
Getting support for Crisis Intervention Team training, jail diversion, the opening of a crisis drop-off/assessment center, and a mental health docket has been a long and bumpy process in my home county. But thanks to a handful of determined officials it has happened.
In Virginia, we have a board of supervisors that runs our county governments, and Board Member John C. Cook and Board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova have been the driving forces behind Diversion First. On the law enforcement side, Sheriff Stacey Kincaid, Fairfax Police Chief Lt. Col. Edwin C. Roessler Jr., and Deputy County Executive David Rohrer each played key roles in forming a coalition that eventually brought more than a 100 different groups together to endorse jail diversion. On the mental health side, the effort was championed by Gary Ambrose, a member of the Community Service Board, which provides mental health treatment in Fairfax; Laura Yager, who assisted him, and Tisha Deeghan, our CSB executive director. Delegates Marcus Simon and Vivian Watts provided support in the general assembly.