By Rachel Hall
Law enforcement officials from San Jacinto, Trinity and Walker counties attended a roundtable discussion in Huntsville with U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady (R-8th) on Thursday, May 2, to talk about the issues they feel are impacting the community.
The group voiced concerns important to law enforcement such as gun control, immigration and border patrol as well as other local issues such as limited county and city budgets that make it hard to compete with the metropolitan area for qualified officer candidates.
"They're on the front line. They have to deal with all these challenges. It was a chance for me to hear from them [about] how we can help them do their job," said Brady.
According to the congressman, who spoke to the Advocate afterward in a telephone interview, feedback at the roundtable event indicates that the biggest problems being faced in rural communities is the prevalence of drugs and individuals struggling with mental health illnesses.
"They described it as a mental health crisis," said Brady.
One primary concern is the amount of manpower and time lost to respond to calls involving the mentally ill and staying with those suffering from mental illness while being treated at a hospital.
According to Brady, it seems there is no real help being offered to the individuals who need it most because the focus of the White House is on gun control.
"Nothing is being done in Washington to address the mental health crisis in America. I think Washington is ducking that problem," he said.
In an effort to bring local concerns to the national spotlight, Brady explained he would like to begin addressing the issues with other law makers who he hopes are also listening to local law enforcement. The congressman would like to see more beds being created to house people who need to be housed and more psychologists being recruited to treat people and to help keep the mentally ill on their medications.
"I'm convinced there's plenty of money in the federal government. They just have the wrong priorities. I see using the dollars we already have a lot more wisely," said Brady.