One problem, said Emmett Police Chief Gary Scheihing, is that Idaho’s psychiatric commitment laws "are vague, subjective and taxing to carry out in rural communities," Dutton writes. Another problem is that law enforcement officers "lack mental health training but are expected to act as first responders in a crisis, when it can be hard to tell violent psychosis from garden-variety criminal behavior." Either way, Gem County Sheriff Chuck Rolland said Youngberg "did not meet the criteria to be taken to a hospital."
The county prosecutor said the state's mental health system faces "a lack of funding and, especially in rural areas, a scarcity of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals," Dutton writes. Idaho has 174 psychiatric beds, or 10.5 per every 100,000 residents, reports Michael Ollove for Stateline. The national average is 11.7 per every 100,000 residents.
"Across the country, a critical shortage of state psychiatric beds is forcing mentally ill patients with severe symptoms to be held in emergency rooms, hospitals and jails while they wait for a bed, sometimes for weeks, Ollove reports.