The program is a different way for local police to handle mental health emergencies.
Frederick, Md (KM) It’s only been in operation since July 1st, but Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor says he expects to hear success stories about the Police Department’s “Crisis Car.” He introduced the program late last month during a news conference at City Hall.
“It’s a car that for now is operating four hours a day, Monday through Friday,”: he says. “We really hope this pilot is successful and we’ll be able to build the resources to expand it. But it pairs a paramedic, a mental health professional from Sheppard Pratt, and a police officer who volunteered for that service through our department to go out and respond to calls for service when someone is in mental health crisis.”
Mayor O’Connor says in many instances, a response by law enforcement is often not needed for mental health emergencies, but a police officer can be at the scene to provide support. The purpose is to make sure the individual in this case has access to the mental health services he or she needs.
The six-month pilot program is a partnership between the police department, Sheppard Pratt, the Mental Health Association, Frederick County Fire and Rescue Services, the City of Frederick Department of Housing and Human Services and the Frederick County Health Department.
Mayor O’Connor says Police Chief Jason Lando began to work on this concept after he took over as chief. “When we went through the interview process, and hired Jason Lando as our Chief of Police, this was an ongoing conversation about how we could bring a program like this into reality,” he says. “And he moved very quickly when he was on the ground and to build this concept.”
The goal, the Mayor says, is to expand this program to 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
The good news is this “Crisis Car” program did not involve the purchase of a new car by the City. “We were able to use a vehicle that we had that we didn’t have to expend dollars for,”: says Mayor O’Connor. “The officers that have volunteered for this is like an extra duty assignment for them.”
By Kevin McManus