Leaders in Rome are asking the state to fund mental health resources

On Tuesday, November 15, the Rome police say they have answered 283 calls related to mental health this year, a higher number than the previous three years in the same period.

The increase is a concern in itself. Adding to the problem, the police said there are not enough beds for the patients who need them.

Now the police chief and the mayor of Rome are calling on the state to act.

“We don’t have facilities to send them to,” said Rome Mayor Jackie Izzo. “We can take them to our hospital for triage, but our hospital is not a psychiatric care facility. St Luke’s and VA hospital system, they are normally full.”

What you need to know

  • On Tuesday, Rome police said they have responded to 283 calls related to mental health this year, more than the previous three years in the same time frame
  • They also said that there are not enough beds available for the patients with mental health problems to get help
  • The police and mayor are asking state leaders to fund mental health resources

Izzo said police sometimes urge people to seek help in Syracuse or Albany, but those locations aren’t always options. She and the Rome police said a lack of beds is also a problem for 16- and 17-year-old offenders.

“A lack of facilities to house these offenders has led the courts to release adolescent offenders with no possibility of detention. That’s another major issue,” said Rome Police Lieutenant Sharon Rood.

Police said the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office is sometimes forced to shuttle Long Island’s young offenders back and forth because closer beds are not available. City leaders are asking the state to invest in facilities where young offenders can stay and where people with mental health problems can get help.

The press conference came after Izzo said there were complaints from a business owner about safety. Izzo and police said they are doing what they can to keep the area safe, even though they are bound by laws they say are causing problems and need to be changed, such as bail reform and “Raise the Age.”

“We are at 2,344 arrests. That’s 474 more than last year,” said Rome Police Chief David Collins. It’s that you arrest these people and you go back out and get the same offenders over and over again.”

The police have ideas to further protect the community, despite the challenges.

“Some have the impression that nothing is being done by the police. I’m going to say this is furthest from the truth,” Collins said.

The police want to adapt their services to increase the number of cars on the streets, increase involvement in their Community Impact Unit and expand their Street Crimes Unit and Volunteers in Police Service program.

Police officers also remove homeless camps.

Both Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James said they would look at data related to cashless bail last month and have not ruled out changes to the legislation.

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