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Report To The People

Report To The People
By Representative Tommy Reynolds

Last week, we addressed a long-standing issue involving law enforcement and mentally ill subjects. House Bill 1222 provides that in the future, law enforcement responders will be trained on how to respond effectively to subjects who are suffering from mental illness. It overwhelmingly passed the House earlier, was slightly amended in the Senate, and when it came back for our consideration, House members voted 114-0 to pass it.

Often, an officer is called to a situation where an individual has acted out by creating a chaotic, threatening situation or has destroyed property or may even be presenting a life threat to themselves or others.

Under HB 1222 every law enforcement agency by 2025 will have an officer trained on how to help deal with the mentally ill perpetrator as well as deescalate a stressful, perhaps even potentially deadly situation.
The measure requires this of all local and municipal law enforcement agencies and provides for smaller agencies to form cooperative agreements with larger agencies that will provide trained officers when called upon.

The measure calls for allocation of $2.5 million to secure and implement proper training for officers. Thus, it is not intended to be an unpaid mandate to our local law enforcement agencies.

It is a very sad situation when a person who is suffering from a severe mental illness episode is arrested and taken to jail because there is no room for them at a mental health facility. This happens more often than many know, and it is not only a stressful situation for the person behind bars, it is also a stressful situation for those charged with holding them. Our jails are simply not equipped to handle the needs of mentally ill occupants. This is a situation that has plagued agencies and individuals alike for much too long in Mississippi.

House Bill 1222 provides for the Mental Health Department to be allowed to provide extra funds—if the funds are properly appropriated—to mental health facilities to provide for more housing for these individuals.

I believe that within the next decade we will see a stronger system of accommodations and proper treatment for those with mental illness whose disease has placed them in situations that could cause harm or even death without the intervention of appropriately trained law enforcement officers.

I was proud to sponsor House Resolution 115 which commends Taiwan’s friendship with Mississippi over the years and encourages our state leaders to continue this mutually beneficial economic relationship. Taiwan, known as the Republic of China, with a population of 23 million is one of America’s largest trading partners, and Mississippi sends much of our agricultural product to Taiwan. Taiwan is a thriving democracy where the citizens elect their leaders and where freedom of religion is guaranteed to its citizens. Over many years Taiwan has maintained a close relationship with our country.

The Resolution passed the House unanimously. Afterwards, the entire membership voted to create a concurrent resolution (HCR 42). It has been sent to the Senate for their vote to agree.

On Thursday, March 23, the Director General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Resources Office, the equivalent of an ambassador, will be in the House Chamber at 2 p.m. to receive the resolutions. We are extremely proud to welcome this representative of Taiwan to Mississippi.

If I can be of service to you please call on me. My home address is 1720 North Main, Water Valley, MS 38965 and my office address is P.O. Drawer 280, Charleston, MS. 38921. My email address is

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