GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A call to 911 for a mental health crisis could mean a mental health professional might be riding along in the cruiser. It’s called Co-response and it’s part of a collaboration with Clinical and Support Options, or CSO.
“People can expect that the clinician is going to respond with empathy and compassion,” said Kristin Smith, the program director of emergency services for CSO.
Greenfield Police wanted to pilot the program after seeing it bring results in Pittsfield and Framingham, where Deputy Chief William Gordon said the cities saw a roughly 75 percent drop in emergency room visits.
In Greenfield, they’re already seeing results.
“We’ve already seen diversions from the emergency room and jail which is exactly what the program is about,” said Gordon.
The clinician will be able to respond to mental health crises in Greenfield, Deerfield, and Montague. CSO is already providing emergency services for Franklin County.
This clinician, who is not a police officer or employee of the department, comes with expertise in crisis response for mental health and substance abuse. They’ll use that expertise to make sure people are in touch with the resources they might need.
“When we see people in crisis we’re only getting a snapshot at the moment,” said Jennifer LaRoche, the vice president of acute and day programs for CSO. “Sometimes they need additional services, they’re not aware of that service. Or maybe they refused services at that time and following up to check in to make sure we’re keeping them in the community and wrapping them around with services.”
While the co-response program has really only just taken off the deputy chief said they’re already receiving funds to expand it.
“And with the $90,000 grant from the Department of Mental Health we’re going to be running our program 16 hours a day 7 days a week,” Gordon told 22News.