Mental health workers facing interference charges after blocking police from patient

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by KMOV.com Staff | @KMOV

KMOV.com

Posted on December 19, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 19 at 6:43 PM

(KMOV.com) -- Police trying to arrest a suspect wanted for a string of burglaries and violating his parole were stopped by some mental health workers, who are now facing charges for interfering.

Last month police came to Jill Marie Court in St. Peters to arrest 23-year-old Matt Walker, who neighbors say is bi-polar and on medication. When they arrived, police were told Walker was at the Bridgeway Behavioral Health Center in St. Charles.

At Bridgeway, detectives spotted Walker when they arrived.

“They saw him on the premises, leave the building saw him smoke cigarette and go back into building twice,” said prosecutor Tim Lohmar.

Two workers at Bridgeway would not allow officers in, saying police needed more than the arrest warrant, and eventually the search warrant, that they produced.

“We tell the police we really want to cooperate with you guys but we’re in a position that we’ll be breaking a federal law,” said Bridgeway CEO Mike Morrison.

The center serves about 4,500 people a year dealing with issues from drugs, to domestic violence, to sexual assault.

Morrison says he’s got more than 400 pages of federal privacy laws that he has to abide by. If employees don’t, they hold themselves and the center open to a lawsuit.

He says police needed a specific court order from the judge that they didn’t have.

While the dispute was going on, Walker escaped through a back window, causing prosecutors to wonder if the facility could be used as an escape hatch for criminals.

“In the interest of community safety, we can’t have any facility serve as a safe haven for people who are fugitives or wanted by the police,” Lohmar said.

A Judge will ultimately decide if the workers face charges. 

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