To the editor:
On Tuesday evening, Dec. 11, Islanders for Collaborative Policing hosted a roundtable discussion about mental illness and policing.
From our perspective, it was a success because of the quality and tone of the conversation.
Representatives from groups and agencies serving the mentally ill exchanged observations and frustrations. Local officers spoke frankly about the challenges facing first responders. Audience members networked with panelists after the event, and laid the groundwork for new relationships.
There was clear consensus about the need for more officer training, community/professional/police partnerships, and better service integration.
There was strong support expressed for a Kitsap County sales tax that would fund mental health services (there are currently 20 counties in Washington that tax themselves this way).
With two lieutenants on the panel and several officers in the audience, it was clear that the Bainbridge Island Police Department wants to engage with community about mental health issues, and think through new ways to improve policing services.
Thanks to the panelists, audience members and islanders for Collaborative Policing volunteers who helped with this event. Particular thanks to Bill, Joyce and Tami Ostling for their participation, and their insistence that their loss be a catalyst for positive community change.
Islanders for Collaborative Policing