GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Network180 and the Grand Rapid Police Department say they are seeing success in with a program to respond to calls involving mental health problems.
The rollout of the Mobile Crisis Team has led to a big drop in the number of people in the middle of a mental health crisis being jailed or sent to the emergency room. The program pairs a GRPD officer with a mental health professional on certain calls.
Since it launched July 5, the team has answered over 325 calls. Of those, 126 were handled without calling other emergencies services, like an ambulance. In 87 cases, organizers say someone who would have previously been sent to the emergency room was diverted to other mental health services. Twenty-three cases were resolved that in the past may have landed someone in jail.
Team members say the numbers only tell part of the story.
“The human experience of what those number are, like the individuals that we’ve dealt with and their stories, the crisis, I don’t think you can put that in a PowerPoint at all,” GRPD Officer Paul Smith said.
Network180 social worker Krissy Lung, Smith’s partner, said the program has been more successful than she imagined it could be.
“We’ve been able to de-escalate situations. Sometimes people can be very overwhelmed if an ambulance shows up, two cop cars and a fire truck. Sometimes that can escalate the situation. So we have the ability to come in and he (Smith) makes sure the scene is safe and then we can kind of collaborate and do our thing,” Lung said. “There absolutely has been times where they (police) have not had to bust down a door, things like that. “
The program is funded through grants.