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WMTW Channel 8: Organization behind yellow flag assessments discusses rise after Lewiston shootings

By November 15, 2023February 29th, 2024News

This story was published by WMTW Channel 8. View the story online through the link below or read a snippet copied from the article, below.

The organization performing the bulk of mental health assessments during the process of initiating weapons restrictions orders under Maine’s yellow flag law is addressing the dramatic uptick in utilization since the mass shootings in Lewiston.

“We haven’t seen a decrease in the acuity of the folks that are coming through, and it is not strictly new departments, and so there’s still a lot of questions for us to be answered. I think the interesting piece about it is they’re still very appropriate assessments,” said Ben Strick, Spurwink’s vice president of adult behavioral health services.

Strick says there’s no clear pattern or reason why the yellow flag law has been used so frequently over the last three weeks.

“There are really striking examples of law enforcement working to prevent suicides, homicides and use of deadly force,” Strick said.

Strick did share data with Maine’s Total Coverage, which shows since they started doing telehealth evaluations 13 months ago, 63 weapons restriction orders have been approved by judges.

That number, he said, is roughly double the previous two years combined.

“Oftentimes, it is multiple days’ worth of work from an officer to ensure that the community is safe,” Strick said.