Reimagining how residents face their mental health challenges, and how that intersects with the Detroit Police Department, is something local leaders discussed recently, resulting in a unique partnership between local entities in a behavioral health pilot program.
Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network [DWIHN] and city of Detroit officials announced last week a new partnership to bring additional behavioral health support to police officers, 911 call takers, and homeless outreach workers when they encounter citizens dealing with mental health issues.
DWIHN will be providing Detroit police officers and 911 call takers crisis intervention team training, according to a press release. DWIHN will also be providing behavioral health staff at the 911 call center and in police and homelessness community response. The new co-response model is thought to create more positive outcomes and offers those in distress pathways to support services.
The partnership was announced by DWIHN President & CEO Willie Brooks, Police Chief James Craig, and Mayor Mike Duggan.
“The Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network is looking forward to the new year and this opportunity to partner with the Detroit Police department and the city of Detroit to eliminate the stigma that surrounds mental health services,” said DWIHN President & CEO Willie E. Brooks, Jr in a quote to the Michigan Chronicle. “We know this pilot program will reduce overall incarceration and hospitalization costs and provide better treatment options to the people we serve. Our hope is to expand this to all of Wayne County once we have proven it to be an effective and efficient way of helping people receive the treatment they need.”
“This is the kind of program that has been badly needed and talked about for years but never implemented by anyone until now,” according to Mayor Michael Duggan. “I’m so proud of the work that has been put into this from DWIHN, DPD, and our Housing & Revitalization Department [HRD]. Because of the lack of institutional mental health support, police officers have been put into the position of being mental health responders. Now, thanks to this partnership, they will have better training and the embedded support of behavioral health specialists for the safety of our officers and the public.”
The collaboration between the organizations through this Behavioral Health Pilot Program will improve police and community relationships along with addressing the mental health needs of the people in the City of Detroit.
The pilot partnership goals include:
Pilot a 911 mental health crisis call diversion and response staff
Increase police officer access to mental health supports
Develop adequate places to house individuals in need of crisis services
Evaluate and expand Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training of police officers and 911 staff
“These efforts should reduce overall incarceration and hospitalization costs and provide better treatment options to the people we serve. Jail diversion and homeless outreach lead to connections to treatment. This pilot is more than just training, it is a culture and community shift that bridges the gap between the law enforcement and behavioral health sectors.” Brooks said.
The new partnership has three primary components geared to support police officers and housing department employees in the areas they are most likely to encounter someone experiencing mental health challenges: At the 911 Call Center, during a police response, and when working with an individual experiencing homelessness.
The City and DWIHN have partnered to develop partnerships in each of those areas:
Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Co-Response DPD and DWIHN have established a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) co-response partnership, which currently operates in downtown Detroit. This team of behavioral health specialists from DWIHN’s providers and CIT-trained DPD officers patrols hot-spot locations, provides outreach services to those experiencing mental health and/or substance use issues, and helps connect individuals to supportive services in addition to co-responding to police runs with a mental health nexus, according to the press release. The CIT’s co-response services will expand to the 9th Precinct in January 2021.
“We understand that interactions with people with mental illness is a regular occurrence in our city,” said Detroit Police Chief James E. Craig. “We can only succeed in addressing this issue by working with organizations and leaders across our community. This is not a problem we can arrest our way out of, nor is jail the proper treatment facility for people suffering with mental illness. With the continued partnership with DWIHN and HRD, we can stay proactive in recognizing and responding effectively to individuals with mental illness.”
911 Integrated Response Beginning in January 2021, the 911 Integrated Response will have embedded DWIHN clinicians in Detroit’s 911 Call Center. They will directly connect callers who are experiencing behavioral health emergencies to support services and assign calls for service to the CIT Co-response units when needed. When not responding to incoming crisis calls, the clinicians will make follow-up calls to callers identified as high utilizers of 911 and connect them to mental health and other needed services. Trained call takers will also be able to better classify calls involving mental health crises and transfer them to DWIHN crisis lines as needed.
Detroit Homeless Outreach Team The Detroit Homeless Outreach Team (DHOT) is also in a partnership between DWIHN, DPD, and HRD. This team will consist of a DWIHN behavioral health clinician and street outreach provider who will conduct preventative outreach to connect unsheltered residents with mental health services, coordinating with a DPD Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) when needed, the release added.
Extensive, ongoing training staff for each area of the pilot project will be provided and conducted by DWIHN. Approximately 300 DPD officers are trained annually in Mental Health First Aid and suicide prevention, among other elements. Additionally, 20% of DPD’s responding officers will be certified in CIT skills, which is a 40-hour training that teaches a community-based approach to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Currently, DPD has over 50 officers trained in CIT. Another 90 911 call takers and dispatchers have received 16-hour CIT training. All of the pilot’s participating behavioral health specialists, homeless advocates, 911 call-takers, and co-responding officers will be trained in CIT.