Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ICP Supports MIDD

Islanders for Collaborative Policing Statement in Support of a County Tax
January 22, 2013

Islanders for Collaborative Policing strongly supports a new county tax to improve services for the mentally ill and chemically dependent. We also support a City Council resolution, considered on January 23, expressing Bainbridge approval for this measure.

The Mentally Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) tax will benefit the mentally impaired and their families. But the new tax will also benefit our police officers, and improve the quality of local policing. Mental illness and chemical dependency create complicated crisis situations, and yet we, as a community, expect our officers to handle these situations with few resources, limited information, and, until recently (and at least for some of our officers) woefully inadequate training. MIDD revenues will strengthen the local system of mental health services, and, in doing so, reduce the occurrence of crisis situations. (Police involvement usually indicates that no treatment is taking place, or that treatment is failing.) When crisis situations occur, MIDD funding will give officers a better mental health system to work with and more resources in the field. MIDD revenues, we hope, will also be used to fund crisis intervention training. Increased funding for officer training in the city’s 2013 budget is a good start. MIDD funds will, potentially, expand training opportunities and insure consistency of service throughout the county. It is well worth thinking about how officers in neighboring jurisdictions are trained since they frequently assist Bainbridge officers.

One final thought. Islanders for Collaborative Policing thinks police accountability and scrutiny are important. But support of our officers is important, too. We approve of the MIDD tax because it reflects our commitment to our officers, and our desire to help them perform their job in a safe, humane, and effective way. Mental impairment is a community issue, not just a policing issue. We are happy to pay a one tenth of a one percent tax to encourage a more holistic effort.

Related link: Kitsap Judges speak out in support of a Kitsap MIDD tax.