TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — The Tuscaloosa Police Department now has a specialized Behavioral Mental Health Unit.
Tuscaloosa PD is now staffed with five certified Mental Health Officers and nine Crisis Intervention Team patrol officers.
Sergeant Craig Parker says the goal is to reach a minimum of 20 patrol officers who have been trained to best respond to individuals suffering mental health crisis.
“I am very excited about this unit it’s something I have been working toward since 2012,” Parker said. “To see it finally here is very exciting from my standpoint”.
Parker tells CBS 42 this new unit is something that has been needed in Tuscaloosa for years because there are so many who have mental health needs. Parker says when his officers respond to a call, they will have special training that will help give those in a mental health crisis get the treatment they need.
“Generally, what we would be called too is someone who suffers from mental illness and is currently in a mental health crisis,” Parker said. “The people around them may be family members, or the general public see them as possibly becoming a danger to themselves, or to others due to this mental illness is typically when we get called. And at that point, we would be called to the scene to try to deescalate the situation to something that’s manageable.”
TPD’s Mental Health Officers partnered with staff from Indian Rivers Behavioral Health, DCH-North Harbor Pavilion, National Alliance on Mental Illness and the University of Alabama for its first self-instructed Crisis Intervention Team training. So far this year in the month of January officers has responded to 50 mental health calls and 17 attempted suicides.
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