Law Enforcement say don’t forget mental health issue in shootings

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Most Americans are still grieving along with family and friends of the Parkland students who died last Wednesday.
And, the debate goes between those who want stronger gun laws and those who look at others causes.

Among law enforcement officers in the tri-state area, there’s no question that mental health issues are a big factor in such mass shootings.

Sheriff Steve Wilson says “I think the number one issue–it’s not the guns out there, its the people that are mentally ill that are getting their hands on the guns and committing these horrible, horrible crimes.”

Walker county sheriff Steve Wilson is a former president of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association, and a member of national law enforcement organizations.

STEVE WILSON: “Sheriffs all across this country ….3300 of us…sheriff’s all across this country complain every time we get together about our jails being full of mentally ill people…because there’s no other place to put them.”

That echoes what Hamilton county sheriff Jim Hammond told county commissioners last year as they discuss over-crowded local jails.

SHERIFF JIM HAMMOND “First of all, the critical need of, what are we going to do with our mental health? We have far too many mental health uh, inmates locked up in our facilities.”

Sheriff Wilson pointed to the lack of mental heath treatment facilities in Georgia.

SHERIFF WILSON says “my jail right now is full of people with mental illness. When the mental health hospitals closed in the 1980’s, on into the 90’s and even to 2000’s all those doors were open to these people across the state and where did these people end up? They ended up in our local jails.”

President Trump has tentatively agreed to a plan that would toughen gun laws, to do more background checks on gun buyers.
While some political and community groups demand quick action.

Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy says “I think that is a very important topic.”

“I think mental health has overreaching impacts within all communities across our country and I believe that it is a collective impact.”

“I think its going to take more than just law enforcement, more than just government, more than just mental health, more than just health associates in general.”

Categories: Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Local News, Walker County

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