PANOLA COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – The Panola County Sheriff’s Office announced they created a new position. Scott Jones is now a mental health deputy.

“One of our top priorities was to implement a mental health deputy program,” Panola County Sheriff Cutter Clinton said. One of his goals was to create this new position after he was elected in November of 2022.

The sheriff said one reason for this new program was that his office does not want to put people in jail if it is not necessary.

Clinton said he chose the deputy with the best experience in November, then Jones completed the Texas Mental Health Peace Officer Program to officially receive his title.

With this new position, if a person has a mental health crisis, Jones will speak with mental health services to provide resources to the person who needs it. He will also stay in contact with family members of patients.

Jones will oversee that registered sex offenders follow their requirements. He is also expected to manage a program that helps locate missing people with autism or Alzheimer’s.

Clinton said, the new position was created to “serve our county the best we can.” He also said many counties have created similar mental health programs with law enforcement.

The sheriff’s office frequently gets called due to people experiencing mental health issues. Clinton encouraged people to ask for help if they need it.

“Don’t hesitate if you’re in need of our services,” Clinton said.