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AltaPointe and Mobile Police Department team up police-mental health collaboration

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 5:49 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Understanding mental health has been a big topic over the last couple of years. Members of the Mobile Police Department are set to undergo training to better understand how to address mental health issues on a call.

“The better we train our officers to understand what those signs and symptoms look like the greater the likelihood we’re able to resolve the situation without causing harm to anybody,” said Public Safety Director Lawrence Battiste.

Next month, seven officers will go to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston, Texas to train for a week to become certified mental health trainers.

“The officers that we’re sending will have the ability to train other officers within the Mobile Police Department,” said Battiste.

While in Houston, officers will go through different scenarios to teach them how to recognize and engage people going through different types of mental disorders

“Posttraumatic stress disorder, dealing with children and adults on the autism spectrum or intellectual disabilities,” said Dr. Cindy Gipson with AltaPointe.

It will start out as a pilot program in the third precinct. A clinician with AltaPointe behavioral health crisis center will respond with a trained officer when needed.

“Either at the point of dispatch when it’s identified as a mental health call we would be dispatched as well or he can call and request that a clinician meet him there on scene,” added Gipson.

The clinicians can also help assess a person’s situation and divert that person to the crisis center for treatment.

“Versus them having to go to the ER where they’re not getting specialized treatment or having to go to Metro for safekeeping,” said Gipson.

The crisis center is located in the third precinct which is why the pilot program will start there to ensure a quick response from the clinicians, but the plan is to evaluate the program in the early stages and make any necessary adjustments before expanding it to the rest of the precincts.

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