By Iris Dimmick
Hundreds of law enforcement professionals from across the U.S. raised their hands to answer a simple question on Monday:
“How many in this group (have) a story – either personal or (professional) – about confronting somebody with a mental health problem?” National Sheriff’s Association Director Jonathan Thompson asked.
Almost everyone in the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort had either a family member or an inmate that was struggling with a mental health issue. For that reason, the Annual Criminal Justice Conference and Training Institute has placed special emphasis on combatting the problem this year, as have medial, reentry, and diversion programs in sheriff’s departments around the country. The five-day conference aimed at finding sustainable solutions to the issue was coordinated by the National Organization of Hispanics in Criminal Justice and the Texas Criminal Justice Association.
“The No. 1 issue facing sheriffs in this country right now is mental health and mental health treatment, bar none,” Thompson said during a panel discussion with local and national law enforcement representatives.