People with mental illness who break minor laws, such as disturbing the peace, end up in jail or the emergency room. Baton Rouge is not alone. Mental health services across the country have been cut, making jails our nation's de facto asylums.

A crisis intervention center has solved this problem in some cities. One key task of The Bridge Center is to implement such services in East Baton Rouge Parish.

With a Bridge Center, law enforcement officers could divert people with mental illness or substance abuse problems to appropriate treatment. Getting care reduces the overall costs, as therapies are less expensive than emergency room treatment or jail time; and police are freed up to return to their beats.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation, District Attorney Hillar Moore, EBR Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, EBR Coroner Beau Clark, psychiatrists, counselors and social workers teamed up for nearly two years to create a plan that resulted in The Bridge Center.