Meeting taps mental health, safety


Six panelists outlined a multifaceted approach to keeping Jefferson County communities safe from violence at state Sen. Cheri Jahn’s, D-Wheat Ridge, first community listening session at the Wheat Ridge Recreation Center.

In response to the school shootings at Sandy Hook and questions about the relationship between mass-murderers, guns and mental illnesses, Jahn and state Rep. Sue Schafer from District 24 addressed the issues of mental health and public safety on Saturday.

“I have not made any decisions any way,” Jahn said.

“I am in the listening mode ... I would be happy to take all your phone calls downtown, your emails downtown. We need to have a really thoughtful conversation around all of this.”

Lesley Dahlkemper, president of the Jefferson County Board of Education, told listeners that 38 school resource officers are on site at schools throughout the county.

About 63,000 children, staff and faculty members have been trained in lockdown and lockout procedures.

Wheat Ridge Police Chief Daniel Brennan said the answer to safety is not about focusing on guns, mental health or gangs individually but in a question of why society as a whole is so violent.

“The No. 1 cause of death for males between the ages of 15 and 24 is firearms,” Brennan said.

He touched on mental health, stating the the best aid is often given in prison after it’s too late.

Former Sen. Moe Keller, now vice president of Public Policy at Mental Health of America Colorado, attacked the demonizing of the mentally ill by the mass media.

“One in four Americans has a mental health issue ... It affects all of us,” Keller said. 


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