Police Chief ‘Frustrated’ with Umatilla County Mental Health Services

A Hermiston man with a history of mental health issues was jailed last week after breaking a window at the Hermiston Police Department. (Photo: HPD)

A Hermiston man was recently jailed for shattering a window at the Hermiston Police Department and the Hermiston police chief is frustrated.

Police Chief Jason Edmiston issued a statement on the HPD Facebook page about the situation where he wrote about the lack of accountability on display with certain social services.

The incident stems from the evening of Jan. 10, when Cpt. Scott Clark of the Hermiston Police Department was sitting in his office adjacent to the police department lobby when he was startled by a loud crashing sound. According to Edmiston, Clark found one of the department’s large 4-foot-wide by 9-foot-tall windows smashed out. Clark walked outside and was confronted by Peyton F. Hobbs, 24, of Hermiston.

Hobbs ordered Clark to arrest him for what he had done. Hobbs was processed at the police department before being lodged at the Umatilla County Jail in Pendleton on count of first-degree criminal mischief.

The damage was estimated ar $1,000-$2,000.

According to Edmiston, this is not the first time Hobbs’, who has a history of mental health issues, has been in trouble.

“Mr. Hobbs is very well known to this department, other police departments, and many city departments within Hermiston,” Edmiston said, adding Hobbs an extensive history of creating disturbances. There are even procedures in place to deal with him if he shows up at the Hermiston Public Library or City Hall.

“He is a person who has severe issues that are not being addressed and, like tonight, instead finds himself on the way to the Umatilla County Jail in Pendleton,” Edmiston wrote in his Facebook statement.

Edmiston said Umatilla County is not doing all it can to help those with mental health problems.

“I can say with 100 percent absolute certainty this crime could have been prevented if we had adequate mental health services in Umatilla County,” the chief said. “The phenomena of inadequate mental health services, however, are not just localized to Umatilla County as it has been shown to be a trend across the nation. The solution often amongst politicians and providers is to ‘train the police better on how to deal with the person’ instead of providing the obvious assistance and resources that are needed.”

Edmiston said he spoke with a family member of Hobbs who is also frustrated with the system.

Edmiston also said he spoke with Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan. Edmiston said Rowan agreed that Hobbs does not belong in jail.

Edmiston said it’s time for mental health issues to be more fully addressed in the county.

“As the agency head, I never want to embarrass our department, our city leaders, my family, etc., but there comes a point where a person must say enough is enough.”