ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A “cops and clinicians” program with Behavioral Health Response has been approved by the city of St. Louis. The $740,000 program is aimed at connecting people calling 911 with the services they need.
“Many 911 calls are people that are calling for mental health services or social services,” Krewson said.
The City of St. Louis receives an average of 700,000 dispatch calls per year. Through a partnership with Behavioral Health Response, officers can respond to a call alongside a trained clinician or social worker.
“If it’s primarily a behavioral health crisis and the person isn’t in life-threatening danger, you can get those over to a mental health clinician and they can take care of that problem without the police being involved,” said Dr. Bart Andrews, Behavioral Health Response’s chief clinical officer.
Tiffany Clark, the chief operating officer of Behavioral Health Response, sees these programs being a win-win for law enforcement and members of the community.
“It frees up the law enforcement officer to do what they need to do throughout the rest of the city while the behavioral health clinicians and professionals are responding to those crises and get the community the services they actually need,” she said.
Dispatch officers will start training on Nov. 1 to learn how to identify which 911 calls deserve police, a clinician, or both.
“St. Louis really needs to give themselves a pat on the back because this is a major step forward in providing better care, better services for our residents,” Andrews said.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is hiring operators and behavioral health response is now looking for individuals to be hired and trained as clinicians.
“But when you call 911, hopefully, you can get the right service, and not every 911 call needs to be answered by a police officer, fire truck, or an ambulance,” Krewson said.