Wednesday marked the 3rd Annual Stepping Up Day of Action Initiative. The event is where Metro Police come together to combat mental health issues behind bars.
“The biggest thing is the focus of awareness,” said Captain Nita Schmidt, Metro Police. “It’s trying to minimize it and handle it at a smaller level before law enforcement has to get involved.”
At the Step Up event, Metro Police came together to discuss the issue in jails across the country, specifically, in the Clark County detention center.
About 20 percent of the more than 60,000 inmates at the facility have some sort of mental illness.
“The hardest part about this is breaking the cycle,” said Capt. Schmidt. “The cycle starts with arrests.”
According to Captain Schmidt, any arrest is a cycle if a person gets treatment behind bars, but then that process stops once they’re released.
“At some point, they fall off and fall out of treatment or are resistant to the treatment, whether it’s a lack of awareness or whether it’s that ability to have a warm handoff,” Captain Schmidt said.
A lack of help on the street increases the chances of a new crime.
According to Capt. Schmidt, solutions start with family and friends.
“A lot of times what they can do early on is to provide support and encouragement and reach out to the different sources in the community to get them engaged in treatment and get them on a plan, so it doesn’t result in a crime being committed,” Capt. Schmidt said.
She also says the solution ends with an effort.
“All of the work we do to stabilize them isn’t effective unless there that support in the community,” said Capt. Schmidt.
The support from the community will help keep everyone on track.