A crisis team intervention pilot program in Indianapolis has released initial findings.
The Marion County Sheriff’s office says more than 40 percent of inmates suffer from a mental illness and the Mobile Crisis Assistance Team, MCAT, was created to try and reduce the criminalization of mental illness and prevent people from entering the system.
The police-mental health team model is an increasing trend in many cities and it’s based on improving communication and identifying mental health resources says IU Public Policy Institute Director Tom Guevara.
"It’s a team of professionals whether it’s a mental health professional, a health professional or a police officer and they are working together and they are relying on their combined expertise to deal with what can be very complex," says Guevara.
The institute helped prepare the initial report that finds nearly all of the team’s responses were resolved without that person going to jail and that 85 percent of police officers found the effort very useful.
The MCAT started last year in a district that often deals with mental health calls says Guevara.
"The options to deal with situations on the streets have been very limited in part because the people on the streets aren’t unilaterally equipped to deal with that situation," says Guevara.
As part of the program police received training to try and de-escalate a crisis.
The report identifies barriers like a lack a treatment facilities and difficulty coordinating information.