Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $532,492)
The role of the Springfield Police Department is to provide public safety that serves the community by fairly enforcing the laws. The general expectation for the police is to fill many roles, such as law enforcement, community relations, problem-solving, public health, and social work. Among their responsibilities, police officers have been tasked increasingly with responding to mental health crises. These situations present a significant challenge to police officers and the community they serve. The need for a strong partnership with the mental health providers and clear community resources is more likely to result in positive outcomes for those who have a mental illness, the community, and the Springfield Police Department. The City of Springfield, acting as the lead agency, will collaborate with Memorial Behavioral Health to plan and implement a mental health response program that will serve approximately 150,000 residents. The target population includes individuals struggling with chronic mental health crisis or co-occurring mental illness/substance abuse. In 2020, SPD responded to 720 mental health dispatched calls for service, with 570 reports.
The co-responder team model for crisis intervention is a police-based intervention that pairs a police officer, often trained in Crisis Intervention, with a mental health professional to respond to the scene where an individual is experiencing a mental health crisis. Our program's goal, referred to as the Crisis Response Network (CRN), is to improve the outcomes for the person in crisis. This will be accomplished by de-escalation and on-scene counseling services. The CRN model will provide appropriate linkage to services to reduce unnecessary healthcare expenses, jail diversion, and improved quality of life for those affected by mental illness. Additionally, members of the CRN follow up with those who have previously experienced a chronic mental health issue to assist them and their families in leading a more stable life.
Our goal is to invest in the outcomes of this program for the future of all residents. The program will serve Springfield and local jurisdictions to provide mutual aid for crisis intervention. Through effective partnerships with community stakeholders, mental health resources, and problem-solving, everyone will enjoy a fairer and safer Springfield.