Sen. Jon Ossoff traveled to Macon on Tuesday to make an announcement regarding a bill he introduced that will fund law enforcement and mental health services.
MACON, Ga. (41NBC/WMGT) — Sen. Jon Ossoff traveled to Macon on Tuesday to make an announcement regarding a bill he introduced that will fund law enforcement and mental health services.
It’s on its way to President Biden’s office to be signed into law.
When someone is in crisis, one of the calls they often make is 911. Often, first responders and law enforcement respond to these calls, but they are often not equipped to do so. That is why Senator Ossoff introduced the bill.
“The mental health crisis in our country is something that affects everyone,” said Senator Ossoff.
Senator Ossoff’s bill passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support.
Col. Henderson Carswell of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office says funding from the bill will help them in two ways.
“It’s going to be able to help us contact field services,” Carswell said. “It’s something that we haven’t been able to do in the past, and I think it’s going to be very effective in helping us address these issues. The second is the training aspect of it.
Kathryn Dennis, president of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, is thrilled with the legislation passed by Congress. She says mental health is the number one concern of the nonprofits she works with.
“To have that support for the programs that are here, more to train our law enforcement, because those are really the people who are there on the front lines,” she said. “A lot of people don’t need to go to jail. They need help, mental help, and most of our homeless population does.
Colonel Carswell says training is key to achieving favorable outcomes in mental health situations.
“It’s just another step forward in bringing people together,” he said. “That’s what I like about this particular bill: it’s bipartisan. It’s about bringing people together, because this is a serious issue that we all have to deal with. I think we need to know how to deal with it properly in order not only to save lives, but also to make our community safer.
According to Senator Ossoff’s press secretary, the bill reauthorizes the Justice and Mental Health Collaborative from 2023 to 2027. $54 million a year in grants are available for governments and local agencies.
Macon-Bibb County received a $750,000 grant through the program in 2021. The money helped implement a project that helps law enforcement and prosecutors respond to threats of targeted violence .