Detroit police expand mental health crisis response program

Detroit police said it responds to at least 20 calls a day on average for people going through a mental health crisis.

"This is a crisis that really impacts our community we cannot arrest our way through mental illness," said Interim Detroit Police Chief James White. "This is a disease that victimizes our community, plain and simple. We see it day in and day out."

In response, the department announced they are expanding a program that has already seen success in four precincts. It is called the Behavioral Health Co-Response Pilot Program.

"This program is going to save lives, it is going to save people, it will help people that are in a crisis that don't need to be put in the judicial or criminal justice system, but taken to the hospital and getting the services they need," White said.

DPD continues to collaborate with the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network and the housing department. Right now, 98 officers are part of the Crisis Intervention Team and have special training.

Meanwhile, the DWIHN also has behavioral health specialists who assist officers on non-violent mental health calls and work in 911 dispatch.

"Prior to the training I would have had not known any resources or any knowledge of how to de-escalate a situation when you come in contact with somebody in a mental health crisis," said Officer Marcus Harris II.

Harris is part of the crisis team who has seen his training work firsthand after responding to a call for a woman having a mental crisis emergency.

"After several follow-ups, I was notified the person is doing much better, she's getting the proper help and proper treatment," he said.

Thanks to a donation from Hudson Weber and the Flint Foundation the program is expanding to the 12th Precinct on the city's west side.