MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Deputies are undergoing detailed training to take on a growing challenge in the Pee Dee.
Marion County deputies are learning how to better identify those who are mentally ill.
Thirty-seven officers are undergoing training with the help of Trinity Behavioral Health.
Sheriff Wallace said his deputies will know exactly how to determine whether they are interacting with a true suspect or someone who just needs help.
"The first goal of the person is the safety of the person and to get those folks medical treatment thorough mental health or the hospital, whatever they need to have a better life," Wallace said.
If officers determine someone may be acting out because of mental illness, they are taken to the hospital for evaluation.
Wallace added over the past six months, deputies have been responding to calls involving situations where a person was facing a mental debilitation, which was causing them to act out.
He pointed to one instance where a man had climbed into his neighbor's hen house and began eating a rooster.
The sheriff said this new effort is all about helping to rehabilitate those who need help.
"We partnered with Trinity Behavioral Center, they have been working closely with us and we were able to train 35 officers from the sheriff's office and on the detention side. A lot of times these folks end up in our detention center," Wallace said.