Improving Crisis Response in Kalamazoo County
Federal grant to fund police-mental health collaboration between Integrated Services of Kalamazoo and all law enforcement agencies in Kalamazoo County
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded Integrated Services of Kalamazoo (ISK) a $550,000 grant under its “Connect and Protect: Law Enforcement Behavioral Health Responses” program. The grant will fund the creation of a Police-Mental Health Collaboration (PMHC) to improve public safety responses and outcomes for individuals with mental illness (MI) or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse (CMISA) who come into contact with the criminal justice system.
ISK’s partners on the project include the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, police/public safety from the cities of Kalamazoo, Portage, Vicksburg, Richland, Augusta, Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Township, as well as Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Kalamazoo County Consolidated Dispatch.
Recognizing that law enforcement has become a primary source of contact for individuals experiencing psychiatric and/or substance use crises, the PMHC will develop a consistent, cross-system crisis response model that includes mental health expertise and defines clear procedures for all responders: dispatch, ISK and law enforcement agencies. As co-responders with public safety officers, emergency mental health staff will provide triage and de-escalation for individuals in a mental health crisis and facilitate access to emergency and follow-up services from the mental health system, according to ISK CEO Jeff Patton.
“Law enforcement encounters with individuals with mental illness and/or co-occurring substance use disorder is a growing concern in Kalamazoo County, as indicated by 911 call volume reports,“ Patton said. Based on ISK data, 21.2% (1,561) of individuals served by ISK (7,349) had criminal justice involvement in FY 19-20. “Many people referred to mental health services through law enforcement don’t engage effectively in needed treatment and receive fewer services than those without criminal justice involvement,” Patton added.
Public safety leaders involved in the project endorse the PMHC model as a way to close these gaps. “It will expand our ability to respond to calls for service when a person is likely having a mental health emergency,” says Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller. “Sometimes reported criminal activity involves someone having a mental health emergency. While we have a high level of trained law enforcement responders in Kalamazoo, the need exists for highly trained and experienced mental health workers responding with law enforcement.” READ FULL STORY
“It will expand our ability to respond to calls for service when a person is likely having a mental health emergency.”
Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller