Tucker, GA. – Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) got out of a Black SUV and after greeting people took his position outside of the DeKalb County Police Department Headquarters. The former DeKalb County resident was flanked by DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox, Congressman Hank Johnson (Ga.-4th District), DeKalb County Commissioner Robert Patrick (District 1) and members of local government and law enforcement. 

Ossoff was in Tucker for the first stop on a three-city tour where he plans to brief the media on his latest accomplishment from the Senate floor, a bipartisan bill, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act of 2022, which will provide funding for law enforcement and mental health services

The legislation has passed the Senate and the House and is on its way to President Joseph R. Biden’s desk for his signature. Ossoff took time to explain how the bill benefits the communities, preferably Black and brown communities in Georgia, where incidents of mental health can end in violence or and mire often in incarceration and death. 

The bill will allows local governments to apply for funds for the necessary training. The bill will also allow for jails or prisons have resources to manage inmates that have underlined mental health conditions. Ossoff stated that following Biden’s signature the funds should become available “within the next few months.”

“At a time when there is a lot of division in politics and in government, I have been able to bring Democrats and Republicans together,” Ossoff said of the bill. “I expect it will be signed by the president in coming days and this is so important for communities in metro Atlanta and for communities across the state of Georgia.” 

The bipartisan bill will focus on funding first responder and crisis intervention training, including programs that help law enforcement agencies assist individuals that may experience mental health issues in times of crisis. “We want to make sure our first responders have all of the training, resources and support that they need when they encounter somebody in a mental health crisis.”

Ossoff went on to say that additional training will help those situations result in a way that is safe for all involved. “We want to ensure that amidst a mental health crisis in this country we are adequately resourcing mental health services for those who encounter the criminal justice system,” Ossoff said.  

Nearly one in five Georgia adults combat mental illness every year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Nearly 500,000 have experienced at least one major depressive episode

Traumatic brain injuries and PTSD contribute to millions of emergency room visits per year, according to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) surveillance report on traumatic brain injury-related emergency visit, hospitalization and death report. 

Ossoff made plans to appear at similar briefings in Albany and Macon Tuesday. The Dougherty County Commissioner Demetrius Young and Albany Police Chief Michael Persley are scheduled to be in attendance in Albany, as was Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller, Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Elaine Lucas and Senator David Lucas (D-District 26) in Macon. 

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...