Lt. Lynde Green is a trained crisis negotiator, commander of the Emergency Service Team, and first and only female deputy supervisor at the Calhoun County Sheriff’s office. Starting Monday, she will also add mental health officer to her resume.
Jon Garlick, the office’s current mental health officer, leaves this morning to begin an 11-hour drive to Quantico, Va. There, he’ll spend 10 weeks with other law enforcement personnel taking undergraduate and graduate-level classes in leadership, management and communication, Garlick said.
“We obviously needed someone to take on my duties while I’m gone,” he said.
Green, 43, a Calhoun County native, graduated from Pleasant Valley High School and attended Gadsden State Community College before transferring to Jacksonville State University. Green left behind her major in accounting and began working part-time as a clerk and reserve deputy at the sheriff’s office, she said.
“I started in 1994, and I became addicted to my job,” she said. “I loved it and the people.”
In 1995, Green became a full-time employee in a clerical position before she was sent to the Jefferson County Law Enforcement Academy in 1998 to become a deputy sheriff.
Garlick’s job was created in 2007 when Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson lobbied the Legislature for funding to create the position to better handle mentally ill people. Garlick’s position is crucial to the sheriff’s office because too often people with mental health issues end up in jail, he said.
“In this position, I can make sure people with mental illness are getting the help they need,” he said. “I can make sure they are having a hearing for commitment and not cycling in and out of our jails.”
Two weeks ago, Amerson approached Green about a promotion, she said.
“He told me if I were promoted, part of my duties would be to take on Jon’s job while he’s gone,” Green said.
Green, whose first day as a lieutenant was Monday, only had about a week to prepare to fill Garlick’s shoes. Preparation thus far has included going to meetings with Calhoun County Probate Judge Alice Martin and the mental health liaison for Highland Health System, the designated mental health facility in Calhoun County.
“We’ve gone through the proper procedure for filing petitions and hold orders, and the issues surrounding those,” Garlick said.
Highland Health System agreed to sit down with Garlick in December to create a procedure for hold orders — a process halted due to changes in the mental health care system. Between a dwindling supply of available beds for patients and a rule requiring patients to be physically stable in other conditions before treatment, Garlick has been unable to conduct hold orders for several months.
“I’d hoped to have that done before I left, but that is not the case,” he said.
Despite the difficulties, Green is confident she can handle the job.
“I’ve been a supervisor for nine years,” she said. “I deal with people daily, already.”
Green dipped her toes into the job Friday at a hearing with Martin.
“I had my first hearing this morning at 8:30 a.m.,” she said. “The judge is taking it under advisement,” Green said, referring to the case for which the hearing was held.
“That just means the case is pending,” Garlick said. “Usually that happens when a bed is not available at that moment.”
Green was an obvious choice, Garlick said.
“It is not easy doing what she does already,” he said, “She is an asset to the citizens of this county.”