RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An overhaul may be coming to Virginia’s Temporary Detention Order (TDO) crisis with a new task force announced by the governor.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced a major initiative, the Prompt Placement TDO Task Force, on Tuesday, Dec. 12. The task force is expected to bring together “government agencies, public and private hospitals, law enforcement, and other community partners to address the crisis facing people with TDOs who are waiting for behavioral health services.”

“Virginia’s current TDO process is bad for patients, care providers, families, and law enforcement who wait with these patients for a placement,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources John Littel in a release. “This Task Force is a key step in improving the behavioral health system across the Commonwealth.”

The task force initiation comes after a year in which five of Virginia’s eight mental health facilities shut their doors to new patients amid a staffing crisis that created dangerous conditions for workers. The facilities halted admissions in late July of 2021 after 63 patients and employees had been injured at the state’s mental hospitals within just one month. TDO patients are often in a crisis and unable to receive care due to a lack of such resources, and barriers in the process, the governor’s office announced.

Youngkin said the goals of the TDO Task Force include: “ending the TDO waitlist, finding rapid placements for individuals under a TDO, releasing police officers from spending significant hours away from patrolling the streets, ensuring the safety of all parties, and setting the stage for lasting systematic change to the way Virginia processes TDOs.”

Most who are transported fall under the supervision of local law enforcement, according to previous 8News reporting. The additional duties put an increased strain on agencies, between overtime and officers being taken off their regular patrol. Officers transporting TDOs are also obligated to wait with the patient until they can be admitted. With only eight mental health facilities in the state, the process has the possibility to take many hours.

From June 2021 to July 2022 there were 21,099 TDOs in the Commonwealth and the average wait time for an individual to receive placement rose to 43 hours.

“Improving our behavioral health system is at the top of my Day 2 Agenda. It is critical that we address the mental health crisis and prioritize caring for Virginians,” Youngkin said. “I’m committed to making substantial progress in providing access to resources, caring for Virginians and reforming the TDO process.”