In the August election, citizens will be able to vote for a tax that will build a safer community for a large part of the community that has been poorly served. This includes gang prevention programs to protect children from exploitation from gangs and a mental health court to equip first responders for the mentally ill, giving police officers the means to positively interact with the mental health in crisis.
The safety tax increases the number of police officers available to Benton County. With the increase in police officers, it will be possible for the communities to release officers to training programs such as the Crisis Intervention training offered through the National Alliance on Mental Illness Tri-Cities.
The mental health court will help direct the individual in crisis to treatment and reinforce the treatment options instead of prosecuting the symptoms that caused the violations. It would prevent the mentally ill from being separated from their providers and forced into an environment where people aren't trained or equipped to provide his or her specialized health care.
The largest portion of the community will be served by the safety tax. Citizens will get more officers, children after-school programs and the mentally ill the start of a mental health court.
KEVIN KENNEDY, Pasco