LITTLETON - The Littleton Police Department is the latest to join an effort to connect officers out on calls with local mental health centers.
The “Co-Responders” program partners officers with mental health professionals from the AllHealth Network.
“One of the biggest things that police officers have is their communication ability and communicating with these people to get them to a safe situation where there can be a conversation is huge," Littleton Police Commander Hal Mandler said.
Mandler says the program works in two steps: First officers who are trained in Crisis Intervention Techniques arrive at a scene, and work to calm a situation. Then, a mental health professional is called in to help further asses and provide support.
Mandler says this way, the department is working to treat the root of a problem as opposed to just throwing someone in jail, or leaving them in a situation where the problem could turn violent.
He also added that at least 90 percent of Littleton police officers are trained in Crisis Intervention Techniques.
“Let’s treat the problem instead of just responding to the problem and putting a band-aid on it," he said.
AllHealth Networks, the group working on the program with Littleton Police, says the program will help countless people get mental health resources they might not have received otherwise.
“We can reduce the number of completed suicides, we can reduce the number of those inappropriately jailed because maybe they have an addiction or are off their medication.
According to a press release from AllHealth, five of the organization's residential and out-patient facilities are located in Littleton, providing service to more than 5,000 clients.
With such a concentration of mental health facilities. the release says Littleton police are responding to “an ever increasing volume of mental health related calls.”
The program will be paid for by a $350,000 grant.
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