Uncertainty associated with mental health crisis calls can sometimes put members of law enforcement in an unfamiliar, or even unsafe, position.
Supporters of a bill held over Wednesday by the House Capital Investment Committee hope a state investment will pay off in better outcomes for such incidents.
Sponsored by Rep. Regina Barr (R-Inver Grove Heights), HF2922 would allocate $6.6 million in bond proceeds to construct the Safety and Mental Health Alternative Response Training Center in Inver Grove Heights. State funds would be matched by county funds that are already budgeted.
Law enforcement and first responders from across the region would use the 35,000-square-foot facility that would also provide a central location for regional resources, such as electronic crime units or drug task forces. Plans call for a December 2020 opening.
Dakota County Commissioner and former Rep. Joe Atkins said the facility would take the best practices in the areas of health and public safety to hopefully create better results in crisis situations.
“This has a unique focus on soft skills that so often get overlooked compared to hard skills,” Barr said.
Last year’s omnibus public safety law includes a requirement that, beginning July 1, 2018, an officer will be required to complete 16 continuing education credits within their three-year licensing cycle that cover crisis intervention and mental health crisis, conflict management and mediation, and recognizing and valuing community diversity and cultural awareness.
Joe Leko, chief deputy with the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office, said it is important for law enforcement personnel to know all options in a crisis situation, not just the tools on their belt.
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