BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) - A Bloomington council member is proposing legislation that would send a crisis counselor with police or firefighters in certain situations.
Ward one representative Jamie Mathy said prior to Monday night's meeting, that as society becomes more aware of mental health deterioration, it's important to provide funding for crisis counseling.
"For three decades the state has consistently defunded mental health and mental health initiatives and mental health hospitals all over the state. And that has dumped a lot of those problems onto three different groups; school teachers, firefighters, and police departments," explained Mathy.
Mathy said by sending a trained mental health professional with first responders, they can potentially improve lives and save taxpayers money by keeping people out of jail and out of the hospital by de-escalating potentially harmful situations.
Mathy said similar programs used in Colorado and Oregon help resolve issues without somebody going to jail or to the hospital. The proposal would be a two year trial to get real data so a more permanent decision could be made.
Mathy added that with the new Illinois Criminal Justice Reform Law, crisis counselors may become the norm. But he said it's still unclear how that law might be implemented.