Prince William County, Virginia, has started a co-responder program involving police and mental health medics that aims to “de-escalate situations involving persons in crisis.”
The program first launched in November.
A county statement said that county officials decided on an “embedded model” of a co-responder program, after speaking with other programs and the local National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter.
This model pairs a police officer who’s trained in crisis intervention with a master’s-level mental health clinician.
Each pair will respond to calls of people in crisis and try to de-escalate the situation together. Calls will primarily come to the Public Safety Communications Center.
“The goal is to foster supportive relationships with residents and help them connect to services that can provide them with the highest quality of life possible,” the statement said.
The statement adds that the team also has the responsibility of following up with people that were already helped, or that they learned need help.
The program includes three police officers, one police lieutenant, three mental health clinicians and one clinical supervisor. The clinicians will come from the county’s community services.
The Board of County Supervisors approved funding for the co-responder program in the 2021 budget.
The county said that if someone is experiencing a mental health emergency, they should call 911 and ask for either a co-responder team or a crisis intervention team officer. There are three teams available during the day and evening from Monday through Friday.