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St. Joe County Commissioners table mental health crisis response center amid protests

Stephanie Mirza

The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners met today, but funding for a 2.7 million-dollar mental health crisis resource was not on the agenda. Commissioner Carl Baxmeyer says the board has more questions about the project. Baxmeyer said,
"The project isn't fully funded and is expected to cost taxpayers an additional 900 thousand dollars or more to operate every year after the first three years. We want to ensure this process isn't rushed and is well thought out."
Baxmeyer says that the money to fund the project is not being taken away.

South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski says the police take up to 12 hundred calls a year that deal with known mental health crises. He says this is and has been an ongoing problem. He said, "We tried cops and clinicians...everybody laughed at us. The police begging for help, to take these things out of our hands, that we as police should not be dealing with. So for people to say this is last minute, this is not last minute, this is a three year process."

The President of the St Joseph County Board of Health, Heidi Beidinger says not having the mental crisis center issue on the agenda is contrary to what Governor Eric Holcomb is trying to accomplish. She said, " We just had the governor's public health commission report come out and that talks about how mental health in Indiana is woefully underfunded, and the recommendations are to increase funding. We've got commissioners who did exactly opposite of what the governor wants to have happen. This is a stunning development." 

Beidinger says the commissioner could call an executive session and could sign off on the deal for the mental crisis response center, but says at this stage she says that looks bleak.