Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office hires mental health specialist to respond to 911 calls – Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado 2021-06-17 00:27:18 –

Arapahoe County, Colorado — In just three weeks, a co-responder at the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, also known as a qualified mental health clinician, made 118 service calls with agents involved in mental health situations. Responded.

At the end of May, three co-responders swore and became an employee of the county after the sheriff’s office terminated the contract with a community mental health agency. Two more clinicians are in the recruitment process.

In 2019, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office launched a Behavioral Health Response Program. The program pairs agents and co-workers when someone with a mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis answers the phone.

The goal of co-responders is to make things worse and help those who are suffering to connect with important resources.

Under the Community Health Agency contract, a co-responder boarded the scene with an agent, but is now under the control of the sheriff’s office, allowing clinicians access to two unmarked vehicles. You are free to answer various phone calls throughout the county. Vehicles are also equipped with cages to carry people to hospitals and other approved locations.

Kaleb Kittrell began working as a co-responder with the contracted Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office in July 2020 and became a county employee in May 2021. The vehicle he drives is equipped with a dispatch radio and laptop to monitor 911 calls. Dispatch flags clinician calls, but Kittrel also evaluates calls themselves, listens to keywords and phrases such as “unstable behavior” and “rambling speech,” and responds and assists. It is said to determine whether the call can be made.

“We are dressed in civilian clothes and unarmed, so we can sometimes meet someone at risk at the ground level and possibly reduce the feelings of threat and intimidation,” says Kittrel. I did.

If the police determine that the person at stake is not threatening and committing a crime, the clinician will take over the case and allow the corresponding agent to return to the street.

In 2020, one to three co-responders answered 1,600 calls involving people experiencing mental health episodes. The data show that the clinician saved the agent 230 hours.

Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brett Cohn has been calling with the help of a clinician since 2019. He says they have a huge impact on the scene.

“They can provide resources that law enforcement cannot provide,” Korn said. They are clinicians and have additional training. “

He says uniformed officers can be considered intimidating or intimidating to some people.

“They don’t want to see our uniforms and talk to us right away. They don’t want to deal with us,” Korn said.

Julie Jacobs, manager of the Behavioral Health Response Program, says mental health professionals are also responding to verbal conflicts, domestic violence, trespassing and shoplifting calls.

According to Jacobs, the program’s main goals are to save surrogate time, minimize unnecessary arrests, and connect people with important resources.

Korn recalls two opioid addicts sitting in a car outside the store on a snowy day last year. He says someone was called to report the two. Korn says the department was able to help two addicts thanks to the co-responders. He feels he couldn’t have done without their help.

“We took them to the hotel, took them out of the street, took them out of the freezing cold, and did everything with our power to help them rehab,” says Korn. I did.

Jacobs predicts that the number of calls answered by co-responders will increase in 2021 with the participation of all five clinicians. She hopes to double the crisis intervention team in the future.

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