Sioux Falls Police partnership with mental health counselors yielding success
But program limited only to summers because of staffing
A program that pairs a Sioux Falls police officer with a mental health professional to deal with people in crisis is freeing up police resources to respond to more serious emergencies.
That’s a key takeaway following the conclusion of the second summer in which the Sioux Falls Police Department partnered with Southeastern Behavioral Health to add mental health professionals to the department’s patrol.
The co-responder program pairs a mental health professional with a police officer in a marked car, said Lt. Jason Leach, the department’s operations lieutenant. When a call comes in for a person who requires mental health assistance, that unit can take the time to deal with the situation, freeing up patrol officers to respond to other emergencies.
In the last two summers, the co-responder program answered calls for 230 unique individuals, Leach said. Of those, half were treated in place, and 25 percent were set up with appointments with Southeastern Behavioral.
“That’s great. That’s what we’re looking for,” Leach said.
But there’s a catch.
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