DETROIT — In an effort to better serve the community and respond to calls appropriately, the Detroit Police Department has announced a co-response team.
Collaborating with the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network, the department and health network will allow for police officers to respond to mental health crisis calls with a behavioral health specialist.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he has been asking for something like this since he took on the role.
“What drives me is my best friend, my late best friend,” Craig said. “He was an LAPD SWAT officer killed in the line of duty by a mentally ill man. This is something that’s constantly stayed with me. I believe this partnership is the solution.”
Craig also said that at least 20 calls per day are involving an individual experiencing a mental health crisis.
“We’re talking about 16,000 calls,” he said. “And then the top callers calling 4,000 times. Imagine if we can fix this and the impact it will have to public service. I believe this collaboration will not only allow us to free up some of our time, but also help us to save lives in a very proactive, instead of a reactive way. As it stands, we react to situations and they don’t always end the way we had hoped for.”
The program will also provide aid to the homeless in the community.
“Nationally, about 30 percent of the homeless have a documented mental health condition,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. “When a call comes in that someone is behaving erratically, a police officer shows up, but what are they supposed to do? They can’t lock them up; the (Detroit Detention Center) isn’t equipped to deal with these individuals and in many cases they refuse to go to a shelter. Now we’ll have an integrated team with police officers, behavioral specialists and someone from our Housing Department to respond. We’re giving the police the kind of tools they need to handle these tough situations.”