Problems with Virginia's mental health system were front and center Wednesday morning, when Attorney General Mark Herring met with law enforcement officials in Roanoke.
Herring was making his 17th stop on a statewide listening tour.
In the audience were most of the leaders in Roanoke's law enforcement community.
The wide-ranging dialogue touched on many problems including drug abuse and gangs, but the subject that generated the most discussion was mental health.
The General Assembly took steps to improve Virginia's mental health system including an extension of the time someone can be held under an emergency custody order, but local officials said they're concerned about the impact of the longer holding period on their departments.
"None of us want to see somebody not receive the services that are required," said Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall, "but you know I don't feel like extending the time period of an ECO necessarily accomplishes that. The real issue is having the service available."
They also made the case for quicker assessments.
"It would not only be great for the individual," said Salem Police Chief Jeff Dudley, "but it would lessen the demand on law enforcement who are taking valuable resources off the street to deal with this."
"We've heard a lot about the tragedy involving Senator Deeds' son and the short time that was available to try and look for a bed," Herring said in an interview, "but at the same time a lot of localities understand that the way the process works, if the time is extended that may just end up taking a police officer or a sheriff's deputy off the street."
And Herring said a long-term solution will ultimately hinge on adequate funding for critical mental health services.