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(WBIR-Knoxville) Knoxville city and Knox County leaders will meet on Thursday to discuss the future of a proposed safety center for low-risk criminals and inmates who suffer from mental illness.

Law enforcement and elected officials will meet to discuss the first steps in the "request for proposal" process to take bids from groups interested in running the facility.

One of the groups that will will vie for the spot is the Helen Ross McNabb Center -- which will focus their efforts on people with mental illness who enter the safety center.

"Our community desperately needs (this), and it's really going to fill a need and it's going to get some of these people who desperately need mental health services into the programs that will help them," said Knox County Commissioner Amy Broyles.

The meeting is slated for 10 a.m. at the Knox County Purchasing Division office.

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