Decatur Police Department to work with View Point Health to hire mental health clinicianDecatur Police car. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Decatur, GA — The city of Decatur will work with View Point Health to create a co-responder program in which a full-time licensed behavioral health clinician will be assigned to the Decatur Police Department to provide mental health services.
The city will enter into a police-mental health collaboration agreement with View Point Health, and the annual budget for the program is about $84,000.
View Point is a public community behavioral health center. The police departments in Conyers, Chamblee, Norcross, Lawrenceville and Gwinnett County are currently working with View Point Health to implement their co-responder programs.
For about a decade, the Decatur Police Department has used a crisis intervention team service model for mental health crisis response and works with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to provide this training to the officers.
“Even with our department and our officers adhering to the CIT model and with us making our own referrals to mental health court in situations where we had to make cases and with us accessing the GCAL, the Georgia Crisis and Access Line when we met the criteria, it is not enough, and we see a significant need to have a full-time licensed mental health clinician here with the city of Decatur helping our department day in and day out,” Capt. Jennifer Ross said.
Through this program, View Point will provide the police department with a full-time fully licensed or associate licensed clinician who will conduct behavioral health evaluations, crisis intervention, link people to community resources and case management, and conduct other behavioral services as needed.
Charlene Marsh, local government management fellow for the city, said View Point also does outreach and follow up that the city can use to provide various services.
“There’s also a data collection and assessment piece, which has been extremely important in our research because it’s super important for the city to know what calls are coming in, what resources people are needing and also what time of day these calls are coming in,” Marsh said. “In addition to that, the city will also have access to a 24-hour call center, so even outside of those 40 hours a week when the clinician is working, we’ll still be able to have access to assistance and services as needed.”
The co-responder program will allow the city to direct the most effective resources to mental health service calls.
“Research shows that co-responder programs result in multiple benefits including better and faster access to these needed services, as well as decreases in arrests and increased follow up for mental health crises,” Marsh said. “More than anything, this program would allow for someone to come in and intervene before individuals have to interact with law enforcement or even get arrested in order to get access to critical health related to mental health.”
Commissioner Lesa Mayer said she was fired up about the creation of the co-responder program.
“This is important,” Mayer said. “This is a way that we can treat people, our community members, our visitors with great dignity, especially in times of crisis.”