With the number of mental health cases rising, police forces have started having to get creative with how they deal with these special cases. Police officers are rarely trained in-depth on how to deal with mental health cases, and yet, they are most often the first people to show up after a 911 phone call.
One sheriff made headlines as he found new and creative ways to care for inmates with mental health problems.
Tom Dart, whose department is the second-largest sheriff’s office in the nation, said, “We were being asked more and more to be the first responders for mental health cases, and they were being asked to do things they don’t have training for or minimal training for.”
The need for some kind of mental health resource for police officers came to a head this year, as 60% of 911 calls started to involve mental health issues.
The answer to this growing need came in the form of tablets. These tablets are used to make Zoom calls to mental health professionals. Mental health professionals and therapists are now available to be called at any time by police officers. This allows those who have mental health issues to communicate with someone who is trained to understand and help them.
It has proven to be a huge learning curve for many officers, but time after again has proven itself to be worth the effort.
It has been an additional cost to police forces but is minuscule in comparison to other options that they might have used.
31 years ago, Eugene, Oregon established a program called Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) to de-escalate conflicts, often related to mental health, without police. Sign this petition to urge city councils in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago to implement the Cahoots program before any more lives are lost!
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