Friday, June 20, 2014

Co-Responder Fills Big Role

In the summer of 2013 the Overland Park Police Department began working with members of the Johnson County, Kansas Government to apply for a federal grant through the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).  The purpose of the grant was to collaborate with the Johnson County Mental Health Center to staff a full-time clinician at the police department known as a “Co-Responder”.  

In November of 2013, the federal grant was approved and a selection process was initiated to identify candidates for the co-responder position.  The successful co-responder candidate started full-time in the position in May of 2014.  The co-responder is assigned to our Myron E. Scafe Police Building and is a member of the Community Police and Problem Solving Section.

What makes our co-responder unique to others in the area is the compliment of a full-time Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officer to partner with for case management.  Together, the CIT officer and the co-responder form the nucleus of the Department’s CIT program.  Overall, the mission of our CIT Program is to serve Department Members, and individuals with mental illness, with dignity and respect in response to crisis situations requiring effective, and efficient problem solving methods, while showing genuine concern for the well being of all.

The co-responder has resources to manage cases and problem-solve before clients experience a crisis.  Further, if the crisis occurs while the co-responder is on-duty, she may be called to the scene to provide an assessment of the person’s mental health and to help the officers problem-solve the situation.  Partnered with the CIT officer the co-responder can conduct outreach contacts with clients to problem-solve before, or after a crisis.

The primary goals of the department’s CIT program is to reduce the number of repeat mental health related calls, proactively help clients manage crisis situations and reduce the officers on-scene time on mental health related calls.  Secondarily, the CIT program goals are to provide training to police department personnel on how to efficiently, and effectively, handle mental health related calls.

To date, the mental health co-responder has been involved in over 95 reports or contacts, and has made 12 site-visits for assessments.