Sen. Deeds Urges ECO Time Limit Extension - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Sen. Deeds Urges ECO Time Limit Extension

Posted: Updated: Feb 21, 2014 05:58 PM

State Senator Creigh Deeds shared some emotional words Friday in Richmond. He wants to extend the limit for emergency custody orders (ECOs) from six to 24 hours, despite law enforcement concerns, and he says no one understands this problem quite like he does.

“You know, often people will stand on this floor and talk from their own experience,” Deeds said. “Nobody has had experience with this issue like I have.”

Less than three months after his son Gus attacked Deeds and then turned a gun on himself, Deeds continues his call for change, in the form of an extension to the time limit for ECOs.

“We have the shortest time frame right now in the country: four to six hours,” Deeds said.

According to a University of Virginia study, the vast majority of people find psychiatric care within the existing six-hour window. But for the less-than-1 percent who don’t, like his son Gus, Deeds says there needs to be more time. He wants to extend the time limit for ECOs to 24 hours, but if a patient isn't in treatment within eight hours, there's a backstop.

“If a private bed is not found for a person within eight hours, they're going to be in state bed or they're going to be on their way to a state bed,” he said.

Critics are worried Deeds' plan could put time and financial burdens on law enforcement, often left to transport patients to care.

“We're trying to fix one problem and creating another one by leaving it at 24,” said 40th District Senator Bill Carrico (R).

But for Deeds, this is about getting help when it’s needed - and it’s personal.

“Because, I will tell you, every one of these situations is life and death,” he said.

The bill will go to a final vote in the Senate next week. If passed by the Senate, Deeds’ bill would still face tests in the House of Delegates.

Secretary of health and human resources Bill Hazel estimated last month a 24-hour limit could cost law enforcement an additional $5 million a year.

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