Ada’s hopes for Community Safety Center still alive, but delayed

The Ada County Sheriff's Office's goal of securing a $3.9 million grant to provide options besides jail for people in crisis did not make the first round of MacArthur Foundation funding, but the foundation gave the county $150,000 to continue working on the plan for consideration in 2017, the sheriff's office announced Friday.

If the grant is approved, the largest piece would go toward creation of a Community Safety Center to provide services for people in crisis. It would assist the homeless and those struggling with mental illness or substance abuse — people who now often end up in jail because of a lack of suitable alternatives.

The goal now is to be part of the second round of the Safety and Justice Challenge funding.

“We are committed to maintaining momentum for reform because this is still something we need and want to address in our community,” Ada County Sheriff Steve Bartlett said in a news release. “I have asked everyone involved in the Safety and Justice Challenge to stay engaged in this effort so that we can meet our goal of reducing jail population by 15-19 percent within the next couple of years.”

Nearly 200 law enforcement jurisdictions from across the U.S. applied for the MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge last year, and Ada County was one of 20 finalists selected. This week the foundation awarded $25 million in grant money to 11 of those finalists.