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The Pulaski County Quorum Court backed an agreement on Tuesday with five other counties and five cities to operate a crisis stabilization unit to treat mentally ill Arkansans.

In approving the agreement, the county took another step toward opening the unit, which will occupy two remodeled pods of the juvenile jail at 3001 W. Roosevelt Road.

The center will be physically separate from other parts of the juvenile justice complex.

Once operational, the center will serve people who encounter law enforcement while experiencing a mental health crisis.

Trained officers can transfer — or approve the transfer of — adults who volunteer to go to the center. There, they will be evaluated by professionals and have a place to sleep, eat and become connected to local resources.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is providing the medical expertise.

Act 423 of 2017 authorized the centers. Gov. Asa Hutchinson approved four applications for Pulaski, Sebastian, Washington and Craighead counties.

Under the law, the state will pay for operational costs, while each county is responsible for the building and the building’s upkeep.

Tuesday’s preliminary vote approved Pulaski County’s agreement with Saline, Jefferson, Grant, Perry and Lonoke counties, plus the cities of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood, Jacksonville and Maumelle.

As part of the agreement, those entities agreed to pay $50 per day, up to the length of stay, for each individual they deliver to the center.

The agenda committee approved the ordinance 12 to 0, with three absent. It will be considered by the full Quorum Court on Feb. 27.

Pulaski County’s crisis unit is expected to open in May.

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