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Sheriff Pushes For Detox In New Medical Facility

The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office is asking that a new detox facility be built into the planned medical facility in Mountain Village. Sheriff Bill Masters says that right now, intoxicated individuals are brought to the county jail. 

“Well right now we don’t have a detox facility,” says Masters, “so they bring the patients into the jail that are incapable of caring for themselves.  There’s not huge numbers – 57 in the past two years, most from Telluride – but they shouldn’t be in jail.  These people are medical patients according to the law.  They’re suffering from a disease and they really shouldn’t be placed in jail. 

“They law allows them to be placed in jail if there’s no other facility available, but it also allows me to refuse those people, because they haven’t committed a crime.  I’m reluctant to hold people who haven’t committed a crime,” he says. 

“Most of the time, officers try to take a person who’s in this condition, and release them to friends or get them home, some kind of safe environment.  That’s certainly allowed under the law as well, but we’re finding increasing numbers of homeless people here and just down-and-out, alcoholic street bums.  They have no place to go, no one to take care of them,” he says.

So sheriff Masters has asked the medical facility planners to include a detox area, and staff it so the people can get actual treatment.  He says they don’t seem too open to the idea, but the nearest actual detox area is over three hours away, and that the jail is not medically staffed.  If there is a medical issue or a death there, he would stop accepting people.