Centre County Commissioners hosted a mental health forum Thursday night, to go over the county’s mental health laws and hear suggestions.
This comes after some community members are pushing for Attorney General Josh Shapiro to start an independent investigation of the shooting of State College man, Osaze Osagie.
150 people packed a Centre County annex room, concerned about the mental health practices in this county. A second room was also filled up with 50 people, as county commissioners and state and county mental workers shared how mental health is handled here.
Thursday night representatives from the state and county departments of human services spoke about how mental health is treated by the law and the funding and limitations these groups face.
Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe, says the county will be working with Centre for Community Services to meet the growing mental health issue here.
“We are seeing more crisis diversion programs needed here in Centre County and we’re going to be working very closely with an entity here in Centre County to provide a new kind of service,” Commissioner Pipe, said.” So, hopefully we’re having crises diverted rather than getting mental health warrants, we’re getting folks services prior to it getting to that step.”
People like Lorraine Jones, a friend of Osaze Osagie, the autistic man shot and killed by State College Police in March, says she wants to see change.
“I think that we definitely absolutely one hundred percent need police officers to be accompanied by someone from mental health,” Jones, said.
Commissioners say a new task force with local police officers and mental health workers that will form in August, will help officers when they respond to mental health checks.
“We’re going to have this great opportunity to partner with local law enforcement through a task force that’s being created and discussed, where we’re going to be able to share our perspective on the best way to assist them in serving mental health warrants, but the challenge is ultimately that authority rests with each law enforcement agency,” Pipe, said.
Jones says she’s concerned the task force won’t be effective.
“I am a little skeptical about the task force, because in 2016 they put a task force together, nothing happened out of that,” Jones said.
Multiple people at the meeting said they want an independent investigation of the Osagie case done by Attorney General Josh Shapiro, with hopes of charging the officer who shot Osaze Osagie.
After improvements have bee made commissioners hope to have another community mental health forum.