for: Debra Alfarone (CBS Newspath)
Posted: May 13, 2021 / 11:06 AM MDTUpdated: May 13, 2021 / 11:06 AM MDT
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD (CBS Newspath) – People who suffer from untreated serious mental illness are 16 times more likely to die during a law enforcement encounter than other civilians, according to the Center for the Defense of Treatment. Thousands of police departments across the country use crisis intervention teams to intercede with the mentally ill.
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24 hours a day, mental health doctors respond to the so-called “hotline” within the police department of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. “Instead of using the word‘ hotline ’, we use the word‘ hotline ’so everyone can call,” says Jean Corbin, Anne Arundel’s county crisis response director,
The department, which was the world’s number one crisis intervention team, said it will put mental health first.
Lieutenant Steve Thomas heads the police side of the unit and Jen Corbin heads the mental health side. “Patrol officers can request a mobile crisis equipment, it is at their discretion. Anything other than a traditional crime can be homelessness, it can be someone in crisis, it can be a traditional mental health problem, ”says Lt. Thomas.
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Lieutenant Thomas says this approach has resulted in fewer crimes and fewer arrests. “You are given an option other than an arrest. In addition, he is actually dealing with a problem far above, ”he says.
Samuel Mason says he had been arrested more than 50 times and then met with the crisis response team. “Ever since I met them, I think I’ve had problems once I didn’t have medication, and now I’ve had no problems for a couple of years.” Mason says this unit saved his life “a couple of times.”
“Right now, our community needs someone who can call when they don’t trust the police. And our job right here, Steve and I, is to get them to trust the police again, ”says Corbin.
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The team also provides mental health assistance to police officers and did so for members of the Capitol police department after the Jan. 6 attack.