By Brandon R. Davis and David Jordan | Feb. 13, 2021
County jails and state prisons have become the largest providers of mental health services in the state, and community police departments have become de facto behavioral health providers, even though the majority of them are not trained in this area. Using law enforcement professionals as mental health providers and jails as treatment facilities is extraordinarily costly to the state and local government. It’s also ineffective and unsustainable.
As members of the Governor’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice, we were tasked with working to address systemic racism in Kansas. Gov. Kelly directed the Commission to focus our efforts first on law enforcement.
We took the charge seriously, and over the course of five months, the Commission held 11 bi-weekly meetings and 26 listening sessions with community members and stakeholders. They stressed the urgency of addressing behavioral health.