Broward criminal justice leaders say locking people up doesn’t work and are renewing the alarm to find new ways to help the mentally ill.
The man who climbed on top of a Miramar fire truck on Tuesday is a very public example of this problem. Police say the man is an acquaintance of the suspect and has mental health issues. He was arrested after a traffic stop for more than an hour. Thanks to you, it ended peacefully.
“It wasn’t just a matter of his own safety, a lot of things could have gone catastrophically wrong and someone could have died – the firefighters, the informant or himself,” said Broward Sheriff Gregory Toney. said.
Tony has been calling for changes in how police respond to mental illness.
“Police officers are tired of dealing with all these mental health issues,” he said.
Last October, he launched a new program in which mental health workers accompany law enforcement to calls involving mental health crises. From September 2022 to the beginning of his September 2023, of the 545 clients served by Co-Respondent, 537 accepted services through her BSO community partners, with zero use-of-force incidents.
“I don’t want our county to end up in a situation like Los Angeles, where everyone’s quality of life is diminished,” Broward County Chief Judge Jack Tutor said.
Tutor lives in downtown Fort Lauderdale and sees the homeless problem firsthand. The majority suffer from mental illness. But instead of receiving treatment, he says, they are locked up, given medication and released, only to come back again.
And a stay in prison isn’t cheap. Currently, about 42 percent of the roughly 300 inmates at the Broward County Jail are receiving some form of mental health treatment, Tuter said. Each stay costs taxpayers hundreds of dollars per day, and that doesn’t include medication.
Both judges and sheriffs agree that money should be directed to mental health treatment centers instead.
“We have to find a better way to deal with this,” Tuter said.
They also added that support is needed from the city and county commissioners who control the budgets, along with push from the public to make mental health services a priority.