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, Mayor Kip Holden, District Attorney Hillar Moore, EBR Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Police Chief Carl Dabadie, EBR Coroner Beau Clark, and psychiatrists, counselors and social workers worked together for nearly two years to create a plan for the treatment center. Together, we are pursuing opening the center in 2018.