Fresno Police are making strides to help with mental health emergencies. This week the Fresno County Board of Supervisors officially approved a partnership between Fresno County Department of Behavior Health and Fresno Police Department to help with emergency mental health crisis.
Each officer who responds to mental health emergency now partners with a behavioral health expert. The two agencies began working together last fall and this week's stamp of approval was the last piece to signing off on more funding and put a green light on the partnership.
"So many of these calls are going on because they have some type of diagnosed mental illness," said Fresno Police Sgt. and Crisis Intervention Team Supervisor Robert Dewey.
Fresno Police Department reports at least 40% of their calls are mental health related which is why they started the team and partnership.
"What we are looking at are those long term solutions so that the same individual aren't relying on the 911 system and the ER but are relying on behavioral health professionals," said Dewey.
So far in 2018 the Crisis Intervention Team has responded to over 700 calls and placed 450 people with licensed physiologists or psychiatrists.
"That's how we are getting people plugged into The Department of Behavioral Health to solve the immediate crisis and get them those resources," said Dewey.
Clinical Supervisor Sonia Sahai-Bains said they want to break any stigmas behind mental health care.
"A lot of times they are going to calls where there is an area of unknowns so it's not a clear cut danger," she said.
"To prevent that next tragedy, the school shooting, the next Vegas shooting or suicide. We are trying to identify individuals before it ever gets to that point," said Dewey.
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors signed off on this program to run the next 3 to 5 years.