WTOC Investigates: Mental health priorities and de-merger - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

WTOC Investigates: Mental health priorities and de-merger

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Savannah's United States Representative Buddy Carter toured the Chatham County Jail on Wednesday, alongside Sheriff John Wilcher. 

The two are looking for ways to tackle mental health issues within the jail. 

This comes nearly a month after the city of Savannah voted to dissolve the Savannah-Chatham County Police Department merger. The big question is - where does this fall in the line of priorities for both the city and county? It definitely has the attention of both state and national leaders. 

At Wednesday's news conference, Congressman Carter admitted that convincing voters to get behind and care about initiatives that involve jail inmates is challenging, but he says this has to become more of a priority nationwide. Carter is going to look at how the federal government can help by offering more grants. Despite a de-merging police department at the local level, Chatham County Commissioner Helen Stone agrees that both the city and county should make this a top priority, regardless. 

"It all plays hand in hand. I mean, whether we have one police department or two police departments, the people that are picked up on the streets are going to come to the jail, so I have opinions about the police merger. I'm trying to stay in touch with our chairman who is giving us the information, but as far as this jail is concerned, whether you have one police department or two police departments, this is the jail that's going to service them," the District 1 Commissioner said. 

As much as these local, state, and federal leaders want this, the efforts have hardly moved past just a conversation. A big component that is needed is funding, and that's something Congressman Carter will have to work towards in Congress, and the state goes for State Senator Lester Jackon during the next legislative session. 

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