Wichita leaders push for more mental health resources
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacey Cruse said she had called on Wednesday for an external audit to be carried out into the county’s policies regarding mental health crises and minors.
It comes after 17-year-old Cedric Lofton died in a hospital two days after becoming unresponsive while being held at the Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC) in September.
Cruse points out that the county cannot squeeze community volunteers who are already stretched thin due to severe staffing shortages.
“I don’t believe it is enough to have a community working group developed by the organization and by the entity to be examined. I don’t think that’s enough,” Cruse said.
Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said the city is working to ease the burden on law enforcement when it comes to the mental health crisis.
The council has already adopted its legislative program this month. It includes a request for the Kansas Legislature to address the issue of mental health.
“Give us the resources so we can build a mental health hospital here in Wichita, and if not, at least 50 more beds for mental health patients,” Whipple said.
He says the city is ready to invest more money in the ICT-1 program, but due to a lack of mental health professionals, the city is unable to expand the program at this time. .