According to Dr. Al Edwards with the Greenville Mental Health Center, right now if an officer responds to a call regarding someone with mental health issues, they have two options on how to handle that situation.
"They weigh that information and then decide to either take the person to jail or take them to the emergency room,” explained Dr. Edwards.
However, Dr. Edwards says that’s typically not the best course of action for those people. Which is why the “Greenville Shared Solutions,” initiative was created. It’s a collective effort by hospitals, mental health agencies and the Greenville Police Department to get people the right help.
It starts with a crisis center that will be operated by a Miracle Hill Ministries worker. This is where the person will be admitted for an evaluation by a GHS healthcare professional. From there they will receive the right form of treatment, whether its medication or therapy.
One of the goals is to keep offenders out of handcuffs and free up emergency rooms in the area.
Approximately 154 of the Greenville Police Department's 198 officers are trained to handle crisis intervention situations involving mental health illnesses. According to Capt. Stacey Owens with GPD, his officers respond to about 170 calls a year involving mental illness.
Captain Owens says each person admitted into the program will be assigned a case manager to help the person succeed or get back on the right track.
"To find out where and what went wrong. We'll be in constant communication with them,” explained Owens, “This isn't something that we're just going to drop the individual off and go away."
Owens hopes to have all his officers trained by the summer, which is when the program is expected to be up and running.
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