Jacksonville sheriff: Parkland shooting underscores mental health crisis

'Conversation needs to be had at state and national level,' Williams says


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the midst of an otherwise celebratory occasion acknowledging the achievements of local detectives, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams took a few moments Thursday to address the deadly shooting that unfolded at a high school in Parkland a day earlier.

Williams said the rampage a gunman went on at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which killed 17 students and staff and wounded 15 others, highlights an important issue: the mental health crisis afflicting communities throughout Florida and nationwide.

"It has to be addressed or we are going to see this more and more and more," he said. "So again, hopefully it doesn't take more of these cases. That's a conversation that needs to be had at the state and national level as well."

"How do we address people with severe mental illness and nowhere for them to go, no process in place to take care of them? So we've got to work on that, not only at the state level, but at the national level," the sheriff went on to say.

Williams also opened up about how the Sheriff's Office works with Duval County Public Schools on the prevention of, and response to, active shooter situations. He said administrators and police discuss those issues on a daily basis.

"That's a constant conversation," he said. "Really, to be honest with you, if you are waiting until an event like that to have those conversations, you are behind. So these are conversations we have every day about keeping schools safe."

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