COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A new push from local law enforcement to give those suffering from mental illness the help they need instead of going to jail.

The sheriff’s office started a new unit called the “Community Intervention and Diversion” unit, or CID. Deputies say they can’t always predict what’s going to happen on calls especially if the person they’re responding to is mentally ill. Sgt. Scott Blacker said CID will help officers better respond.

“Our goal ultimately is to be in place in the field with clinicians working alongside trained professionals.  Together we can reach out to those in need and get them the help they need,” said Blacker.

Scott Blacker said this is already being done though the office’s crisis intervention team CIT. The CID unit then helps connect the person and their family to mental health resources, to get them help they need instead of going to jail.   Evelyn Stratton, a former Ohio Supreme Court Justice, said this is a great thing.

“People who are on drugs and alcohol get arrested, they do have withdrawal issues, but they get better in prison or jail. When people have mental issues who are arrested they get worse,” said Stratton.

Stratton was a part of the push to get law enforcement across the state to form crisis intervention teams for the mentally ill. She is supportive of the sheriff’s office’s efforts.

“It’s amazing the transformation that happens when they get on medication they get treatment. They get housing they go back to school they get,’ said Stratton.