Montrose, CO — The City of Montrose has been selected to receive a Peace Officer Mental Health Grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, (DOLA), in the amount of $42,745 to purchase a properly equipped vehicle for the Montrose Police Department’s (MDP) mental health co-responder and to provide peer support training to police officers.
The city has seen an increase in individuals throughout the community who are dealing with mental health issues, sometimes led to crisis situations. Mental health issues in Montrose are a serious concern and a public safety priority. Law enforcement must tailor its response to incidents involving persons in mental crisis. These situations require de-escalation and mitigation of further risk to all involved.
In April 2018, the MPD partnered with the Center for Mental Health and adopted a mental health co-responder program. The program allows a masters-level mental health clinician to be embedded with law enforcement officers, both at police headquarters and on patrol.
The salary of the clinician is entirely funded by the Center for Mental Health. The program is designed to enable the officer and clinician to respond together to individuals in crisis to de-escalate and mitigate a crisis on site.
Currently, the clinician is paired with a police officer from the initial call through stabilization at the hospital to determine if the patient should be committed or released with a treatment plan. As a result of being paired together, the officer is taken away from the department's call rotation and the clinician is unable to complete follow-up visits in the following days.
The purchase of a designated vehicle for the mental health clinician will allow the clinician to respond autonomously, stay on scene to deliver patient services, and complete follow-up visits while freeing up officers for additional calls for service. The responding police officer will stay at the scene if there is a safety need. The grant will also purchase a radio for the clinician’s safety.
"The acquisition of this grant will further support the Montrose Police Department’s partnership with the Center for Mental Health in providing mental health and police co-responder services to those in crisis in our community,” said Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall. “The Montrose Police Department will use the majority of the funds to purchase a vehicle for our mental health co-responder so she can provide autonomous and mobile crisis support. The Montrose Police Department will use the remaining funds to enhance our police peer support program. This is a great step forward for our agency in providing better support to an at-risk population in our community. We are thankful to DOLA for awarding us this grant."
The MPD also received funds to train and certify five officers in peer support counseling. The trained officers will serve the police department and be available to employees as peer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Additionally, the MPD will purchase telephonic peer support through the Building Warriors program.
"Peer support is a critical component of a professional 21st-century law enforcement agency. Our officers see and experience things no one should see in a lifetime. Officers need access to trained law enforcement peer support specialists who understand the job and can assist officers and their families when the job takes a toll on their mental health wellbeing,” Hall said. “I’m excited DOLA awarded the Montrose Police Department this grant as it’s needed to continue supporting our employees.”
According to its website, Building Warriors is a "peer-run non-profit specialty group of responder counselors and peer specialists providing direct services and training to support emergency responders, healthcare professionals, and others afflicted by traumatic experiences."
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