TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler wiped away tears as he talked about his daughter’s mental illness at a meeting of the Republican Women’s Club Tuesday.
His daughter, Jenny, is charged with felony assault and battery with a deadly weapon for allegedly stabbing Kunzweiler at their home in September.
He opened up about his family trauma.
“She is one of the most compassionate and well-intentioned persons we know,” Kunzweiler said.
He wants some of the state’s $2.8 billion in rainy day savings to help fund what he calls a “state emergency.”
“When our department of mental health has a waiting list for the placement of the mentally ill in a facility that is designed to keep them safe and … the public safe, that sounds like an emergency to me,” Kunzweiler said.
Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado stood up and also blamed the legislature.
“And you were sold a bill of goods that said they would go again to the counties for mental illness and substance abuse issues,” Regalado said. “All we’ve seen since 2017 when that passed was a rise in homelessness, a rise in mental illness and still a lack of funding and commitment to those two issues.”
Kunzweiler said he believes one way to fight the problem is to start at home with education.
“We know how impactful drugs are in the development of children and how impactful drugs are in those home environments,” he said. “We know how impactful domestic violence is and how that cycle of violence can repeat itself.”
He continued, “The more we will try to spend the money on the front end and create a safer environment where young children can be educated, that’s the point.”
Joining the district attorney were his wife, Christine, and his daughter Jackie.
“In thinking about how I would describe the mental health crisis in our country, I would use one word specifically to describe it – indifference,” he said.
In the meantime, the Kunzweilers hope their daughter Jenny gets the care she needs to get better.
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