Chattanooga Police Department program assisting in mental health calls
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF)- Chattanooga Police Department has launched a new program to provide an additional tool in its belt to help serve the community.
Lt. Tim Tomisek, with the Chattanooga Police Department, says the department responds to 35-45 mental health-related calls a week. C.P.D. has launched a Co-Response Unit (CCRU) to assist with mental health calls.
CCRU pairs a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officer with a Co-Response mental health specialist.
He said this specialty unit allows officers to deescalate the situation and allow trained mental health experts to help treat on scene.
“I think back to my patrol days and if you go out and find someone in a mental health crisis, you have to wait for the crisis response team to respond, you’re out there for two or three hours. This way we have a mental health specialist who can do that right there on the scene to get them into a place that suits whatever that is that they’re going through,” said Lt. Tomisek.
Chattanooga resident and president of Well Being Trust, Dr. Benjamin Miller, said the teamwork aspect helps provide additional services to the city.
“Nationally about 20% of our police are usually either transporting or addressing issues of mental health. To not have a team-based approach just means that folks are gonna languish and work harder to get the help that they need,” said Miller.”They realize that this pair, this team, they’re here for my benefit. They’re here to help and perhaps the next time that person happens to call in, …if a police officer has to go out now they’re not afraid. They’re not as afraid of the uniform, they see us in a whole new light,” said Lt. Tomisek.
Chattanooga is one of a few departments to implement this program across the country. It has the potential to decrease injuries, involuntary commitment, and psychiatric hospitalizations.
Volunteer Behavioral Health provided a grant to help pay for the program.