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How Aurora's Crisis Response Team responds to mental health crises

The Aurora Police Department talked to 9NEWS about how their Crisis Response Team operates, even when someone doesn't want their help.

AURORA, Colo — When police respond to a mental health crisis, they often bring mental health professionals along. But sometimes the person in crisis doesn't want their help. That was the case in Aurora on Tuesday.

Police say a mental health crisis turned into a shootout between officers and 42-year-old Jeffrey Moralez. This came after Aurora Police and their Crisis Response Team made several attempts throughout the day to assist him, but he declined.

“These are officers that have specialized training in recognizing the indicators of a person being in a mental health crisis. As well as you know, just high-level de-escalation skills,” said Aurora Police officer Sammie Wicks.

Wicks is part of the department's Crisis Response Team (CRT).

“We really go to crisis calls. They can have an underlying mental health issue related to them,” Wicks said.

After they get the call, the team tries to learn as much as they can about the person in crisis from the caller.

"Our mental health professionals on their side of the house, they may be able to see if that person has been in contact with Aurora Mental Health before,” Wicks said.

That will determine how the team handles the situation, but still, sometimes people don't want their help.

"There are instances where a person may need resources and they may refuse,” Wicks said.

At that point, police will leave and do additional follow-up either with their mental health provider or family.

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Someone who "has a good relationship with them, we'll contact them and say, ‘Hey, can you do a follow-up?’ Or we'll call a family member and say, ‘Hey, can you talk to this person? Can you get them connected or just convince them to meet with us?" Wicks said.

But those in crisis are always left with a Colorado Crisis Services card whether they want to talk or now or later.

"We're really committed to helping people. sometimes it just takes several iterations of us showing up and contacting that person. Or just providing them with a number and say hey when you feel better call us back, which happens a lot,” Wicks said.

Aurora Police offer several services for those who may find themselves, their family, or a loved one in crisis.

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