Police Arrest Fewer Mentally Ill People with New Program

Image from WSJ.com.

In Gainesville, Florida, officer Shelly Postle teamed up with Makenzie Boyer, a mental health professional to handle calls regarding people with mental health issues.

Postle and Boyer handled 434 calls in eight months, making a co-responder team that halted 92 percent of potential arrests of mentally ill people. Boyer said she and Postle do a general assessment of behavior to check whether the person is a threat to themselves or others, and see if they are on their medications.

“Law enforcement can show up and if someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, they only have a couple of options,” Boyer said in a local news article.

Seventy-five percent of those people contacted by the co-responder team were diverted to mental health outpatient treatment, or they agreed to be submitted into inpatient treatment instead of being evaluated after being taken into custody.

The officer and mental health worker then followed up with individuals who frequently contact the public safety system.

Shockingly, by not arresting mentally ill people, the team actually saved the city and county over $200,000 dollars in eight months.

I think this is such a wonderful program. Our officers are such valuable public servants, and with the help of mental health professionals they could have more time and resources to devote to safety in our communities.

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