Saying Idaho needs to "care for and protect our people in crises just like we protect our rivers and natural resources," Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson stood before Idaho lawmakers Feb. 8, telling them that his department responds to an average of 20 calls per day "for residents experiencing a mental crisis."
Masterson joined nearly three dozen citizens to testify before a joint session of the Idaho House and Senate Health and Welfare committees, urging appropriate funding for mental health services and caregivers.
"We rescue on average 1.4 persons a day who are then hospitalized under Chapter 66; they survive to live another day," said Masterson. "Regrettably the rapids—suicide—take the life of one person a week on average in my city on this short stretch of the Boise River. Multiply that scenario at least 100 times for our county sheriffs and city Police chiefs, and the numbers are staggering."
But Masterson cautioned lawmakers not to focus exclusively on what he called "emergency rescue efforts," such as special prisons for the mentally ill or more training for police.
"We need to focus upstream, and what you as our elected leaders can start doing now to reduce the number of our citizens from reaching the rapids," he said.