GENESEE COUNTY, Me. (WYRT) – (May 6, 2021) – This week the Genesee County community passed the Mental Health Millage, generating an additional $ 9.4 million in funding.
ABC12 reported last month that the money is now being used for crisis prevention and to cover costs that are not insured for vulnerable populations.
About half of this dollar is used for additional training for police officers. The Genesee Health System said the community can expect this to be in action in the next few months.
GHS stated that they have always had a partnership with local law enforcement agencies, but asked taxpayers $ 4.3 million over the next 10 years to ensure officers are prepared for mental emergencies that they already face too often .
It’s a need across the country. GHS hopes the Crisis Intervention Team or CIT will put an end to preventable tragedies.
“The real goal of CIT is that everyone leaves as safely as possible and that the person in need of treatment feels they can get treatment without fear of going to jail and without Fear of legal repercussions I need this treatment, ”said Jennifer McCarty of GHS.
How will you achieve this result?
McCarty stated that they are still in the planning stages. However, she said the goal is to train at least one officer per shift in every agency in the county.
“How about if you ran into someone who heard voices and they were experiencing it, and then how could you practice speaking to that person and de-escalating the situation,” she explained. “Maybe there is no use of force or the need to put this person in jail. and maybe then they are a little more ready to get involved in treatment. “
Although the millage dollars are not expected until this winter, McCarty said GHS is ready to get started now. The CIT teams could be deployed within the next 6 months.
Another possibility is for a psychiatrist to respond to 9-1-1 calls with officers. At the scene, McCarty said they would determine who takes the lead.
Last year we heard calls from several communities across the country to devalue the police and use only mental health experts instead. McCarty said at the moment the GHS and local police both agreed that this partnership is best for Genesee County.
“I’m really proud to be part of an innovative way to make sure everyone gets the help they need, when they need it, wherever they need it,” she added.
GHS said prison staff and dispatchers will also attend the training so that everyone is on the same page.
A further $ 3.2 million is set to create a crisis center in the county. It will serve as a place other than the prison or the emergency room to help someone who is in a mental crisis.
When asked why it is now, GHS said the need is here and only growing after the Flint water crisis and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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