BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Senator Bill Cassidy says a big part of being in law enforcement is responding to mental health crises. But, they often lack resources to help them respond better.

Cassidy is introducing a bill to give them the tools they need.

“Law enforcement, often, have to often make up for the efficiency of our mental health system,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy.

The Bridge Center for Hope is the first adult crisis facility in Louisiana, located here in Baton Rouge.

Executive Director Charlotte Claiborne says in 2021, 41 percent of their patients came in with the help of law enforcement.

“The goal of the Bridge Center for Hope was to be able to act as an alternative to jail and prison, and also emergency rooms, for those who encounter law enforcement,” she said.

The Bipartisan Law Enforcement De-escalation Training Act pushes for the following:

  • Spend 70 million dollars in annual grants on law enforcement training
  • Require the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to develop training topics
  • Require the National Institute of Justice and the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the implementation of the program and the effect of the training

“What we need to do is give the law enforcement officer the tool and training they need for their safety and for the safety of those in the midst of a mental health crisis,” said Cassidy.

Claiborne says sometimes police and EMS are the first steps in seeking help.

“Our first responders have their own separate entrance. And the reason why we did that is we want them to quickly bring them in and then quickly as they possibly can get them back on their duties,” she said.

She says any additional training is always good news. Especially since their need has escalated since the start of the pandemic.

“It’s been extremely successful. And I do credit law enforcement and EMS all of the first responders,” said Claiborne.

For more information about the Bridge Center for Hope, visit here.