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Detroit Police Department to partner with organization to address mental health crises

two Detroit police cars parked with Detroit skyline in background
Detroit Police Department

The Detroit Police Department is getting extra help to respond to mental health crises in the city. Teams of officers and behavioral specialists trained in crisis intervention will expand to the Ninth Precinct in January.

Police Chief James Craig says the pilot program, which is expected to launch at the beginning of 2021, is meant to address a lack of institutional mental health support. He says this year, Detroit police have responded to about 7,300 calls involving individuals experiencing a mental health emergency.

“That comes down to roughly 20 per day and this number might seem high, but 70% are classified as violent.”

Sometimes the results have been fatal. Mayor Mike Duggan says it’s part of a bigger problem.

“When the mentally ill turn to the police as a response, the system is broken,” Duggan says.

Craig says the burden is felt in the correctional system.

“Seventy to 80% of the inmate population suffering from some form of mental illness.”

DPD’s partnership with the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network seeks to address those issues. Craig says the partnership will also bring clinicians to Detroit’s 9-1-1 call center and expand mental health training to officers. He says Detroit is establishing a homeless outreach team to connect people without a place to stay with mental health services.

Bernard Parker is chair of the network. He says the organization is excited to partner with the city for the program.

“It’s going to save lives and if not, give people the help they really need by having professionals out there in both mental health services and substance abuse services.”

Reallocating law enforcement funding and putting it towards mental health services is a key point for the ‘Defund the Police’ movement.

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