Mary Grace Keller
The Frederick News-Post, Md.
The Frederick Police Department launched its “crisis car” last week, a pilot program designed to provide a mix of resources in the event of a mental health crisis.
The Board of Aldermen voted 5-0 Thursday to approve a memorandum of understanding for the program, which was announced last month.
The crisis car, an unmarked police vehicle, is staffed by a plainclothes FPD officer, a Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services (DFRS) emergency medical technician or paramedic and a health professional from mental health provider Sheppard Pratt. The intent is for them to work together as a team responding to mental health emergencies in the city, according to a board memo.
Law enforcement and city officials gathered outside the police department Thursday to witness the official start of the Crisis Response Team. Among them was FPD Chief Jason Lando.
“There is a need to rethink how we deal with mental health emergencies in our community,” Lando wrote in an email. “Collaboration is key. The police are an important part of this equation, but only a part. It was great to see so many agencies come together so quickly to make this happen. I am hopeful this team approach will become a model for other cities moving forward.”
The pilot program is designed to run through Dec. 31, starting with weekday afternoon shifts. If the crisis car is deemed successful, the city’s long-term goal is to see the car run 24/7.
District Court Chief Michael Moore of the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office said the effort coincides with their goals as well.
“The Crisis Response Team is a great way to bring much needed mental health resources to the front lines,” Moore wrote to the News-Post. “This new team is a perfect complement to what we are trying to achieve in the courtroom, with the added benefit of being present in the very first moments of crisis.”
At the city’s June news conference, officials said the Crisis Response Team will also conduct follow-up visits and wellness checks when it’s not responding to calls.
The program is a partnership between the police department, Sheppard Pratt, the Mental Health Association of Frederick County, Frederick County DFRS, the city of Frederick Department of Housing & Human Services and the Frederick County Health Department.
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