Forum Focuses On Impact Mental Health Issues Have On Law Enforcement

September 27, 2017 06:21 PM

Handling mental health issues is one of the biggest challenges law enforcement agencies in the Twin Cities face.

Which is why the East Metro Crime Prevention Coalition held a forum Wednesday in Arden Hills, bringing together officials to talk about the growing impact such issues are having on the criminal justice system. 

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Law enforcement officials looked at ways to better identify mental illness and help those in need. Officials said two-thirds of people behind bars suffer from some kind of mental illness.

"It seems like so many people coming into our jails do have some kind of mental illness, or chemical dependency or traumatic brain injury," Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said. "They are very difficult to do deal with." 

"Too often 911 is the answer," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said. "But the reality is that is going to occur, so I think what we need to do is to make sure when that does happen that the police response is appropriate. And then as they come through the criminal court system, (that) we're adequately informed and engaged around that." 

Officials at the forum said the state needs to improve resources offered to those leaving jail so they don't end up back behind bars.  

Credits

Joe Mazan

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