This story is associated with a fiscal year 2022 award of $1.4 million made to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office (Michigan), through the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program (COSSUP).
About the Program
With funding from a COSSUP grant, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office was able to form a Crisis Response Unit. The unit consists of three full-time officers focused on following up with people who are experiencing mental health issues with co-occurring substance use disorders. During these follow-ups, members of the unit offer support and connection to community resources and treatment services.
The unit is also actively working to break down the stigma that exists for this population by providing awareness and Crisis Intervention Team training to law enforcement colleagues and a wide array of community members. The unit has a tight partnership with the local Oakland Community Health Network (which provides community mental health services) as well as the Alliance of Coalitions (which leads substance use prevention and harm reduction efforts).
Program Successes and Effect on the Community
The Crisis Response Unit has been active in Oakland County since December 2022. In May 2023, two deputies from the unit saved the life of a man in Pontiac, Michigan, during a drug overdose. They found the man unresponsive at the bottom of a staircase and revived him using a triple dose of Narcan. He regained consciousness and agreed to go to a hospital for treatment; the deputies accompanied him there.
The unit’s unscheduled visit to the man’s addresses was prompted by a concerned family member who had not heard from him recently. Without the Narcan administered by the unit, the 26-year-old may not have survived. It was not the first time that the unit was able to intervene during an active overdose to help an individual with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.
The unit’s sergeant and two deputies, who do not wear typical police uniforms, have advanced crisis intervention team training. They receive hundreds of calls for service each month and visit dozens of individuals who need help and services.
See the COSSUP section of our site for information about the BJA program through which funding was provided.