What counties do you represent? If this is a statewide office, please put statewide.
Douglas (Highlands Ranch)
Have you or someone you loved ever experienced a mental health and/or substance use condition?
Question #1: Colorado, like the rest of the nation, is facing a youth mental health crisis. Do you support school policies and funding that increase the availability of mental health services and supports in schools and early childhood settings?
Would you like to explain your response to question #1?
I do, however, believe that we need to reestablish robust public mental health institutions. Law enforcement has become the default mental health providers for those over 18. And people expect the schools to be the default providers for those under 18. That is NOT either of the main functions of either of these institutions. And I believe that institutions must focus on their core functions to do them well or they will do nothing well.
Question #2: Do you believe mental health and substance use are serious issues your constituents are experiencing that deserve legislative attention and action? Please explain.
Yes. As stated above, I believe we have let a HUGE gap exist in our social infrastructure. Right now in the Douglas County jail, more than 50% of the population are on psychotropic drugs and more than 70% require mental health treatment. In the 1960s, Colorado had around 2K mental health beds. Now, with 4X the population, we have around 200. There were significant abuses in the 1960s which led to reforms for public mental health. But the reforms essentially slid into an apathetic destruction of our mental health institutions which we now expect law enforcement and the schools to address.
Question #3: Extreme risk protection orders, also known as red flag laws, allow law enforcement to temporarily remove weapons from individuals at significant risk to themselves or others. Colorado has a red flag law. Do you support extreme risk protection orders?
Would you like to explain your response to question #3?
I did over 300 pro bono hours as a guardian ad litem for Denver County. The procedures are not much different for an ERPO than those if the state came into your home and took your child from you because you are threat to the child or yourself. So I do not understand the view that it violates some type of due process rights. DP is provided. And it can help people in crisis before they harm themselves or others.
Question #4: Overdose deaths are at an all-time high nationally and in Colorado. Many believe increasing criminal penalties for people who use drugs is the answer. Do you support increased criminal penalties for people who use drugs? *
(*Please note that we are asking about personal use, not distribution)
Would you like to explain your response to question #4?
I think where we are at is fine. I do think criminal penalties for use can be appropriate. But a lot of drug use, and alcohol use, are part of a “self-medicating” regime by people which cna be addressed by more robust public mental health institutions.
Question # 5: As a follow up question, did you support legislation in the 2022 session that drastically increased the criminal penalty for possession of any substance over 1g if that substance contains any amount of fentanyl?
Would you like to explain your response to question #5?
Wasn’t in the legislature. I would support increased penalties for those in possession of fentanyl due to the extreme danger of the substance. But a lot of the threshold amounts are not “knowing” as the drug is integrated into others past the 1g threshold amount.
Question #6: Do you believe the State should invest more funding for mental health and substance use? If yes, please explain where you would want additional funding to be directed. If no, please explain why.
Yes. I’d like a redirect of criminal convictions into the mental health system where a person would not have committed a crime “but for” a mental health condition, they can be committed to the oversight of public health authorities for the maximum time that crime could have been penalized. Oregon recently started this type of enforcement a few years ago which sounds promising and should be looked at as more data comes out on their experience. But I think it would be something worth looking at and supporting.
Question #7: People needing care, supports, and services for their mental health and substance use often experience discrimination as a result of their health condition. Would you support legislation that would protect people needing care, supports, and services for their mental health and substance use conditions from discriminatory practices?
Would you like to explain your response to question #7?
Not sure how much of an issue this really is as I would not support forcing others to bear the burden of dealing with the mental health conditions of others. But no one should be discriminated in terms of needed support.
Question #8: For too long the state’s criminal justice system has acted as a substitute for a comprehensive mental health care system. Would you support policies that would disentangle mental health from the criminal justice system and promote the expansion of programs like Denver’s STAR program?
Would you like to explain your response to question #8?
PLEASE SEE MY RESPONSES ABOVE. I answered all these questions in order. And this last one is EXACTLY what I think is one of the biggest holes/gaps in our mental health system.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Check out my website at Bob4Colorado.com Public Safety is my number one priority, but under that priority, bringing back robust public mental health institutions and infrastructure to relieve law enforcement from that burden is a primary goal.