Leaders consider 2 locations for possible safety center

11:12 PM, Jul 3, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR - Knoxville, Tn.) Knox County leaders could have another location to consider when looking to build a safety center.

The center has been proposed as a way to address jail overcrowding issues and help those with mental health issues get the care they need. The city and county are working together on the project with the Helen Ross McNabb Center.

The mental health center is offering two possible locations for the facility. The first would be next to Helen Ross McNabb's main offices in North Knoxville. That would require new construction.

A second location on Ball Camp Pike is another option. If officials choose that site, existing buildings could be renovated to house the center, which would be more cost effective.

Leaders say the center would ultimately save taxpayers money.

"Taxpayers will benefit because those who don't need to be incarcerated, won't be incarcerated, which is very expensive. And people who need services could access those services and not waste law enforcement's time in the future by being picked up for petty crimes in the community," said Jerry Vagnier, president of the Helen Ross McNabb Center.

The city and county agreed last month to create a joint task force to pick up momentum on a possible safety center. It would start off as a three or four year pilot program.

The group will give an update on their progress in September.

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