MEDFORD, Ore. — This fourth of July, Medford police officers were busy handling mental health calls. They say especially during the holidays, increased use of alcohol impacts the number of mental health calls they receive.
Thursday night, Medford Police and the Jackson County Mental Health Department launched a new crisis team to help the mentally ill. Several mental health workers will be on-call and ready to go out with officers.
“Instead of always having to take them into protective custody, we’re able to get them the help at that time where they are able to implement a safety plan,” said Medford Police Corporal Josh Schilder.
There’s at least one mental health worker who is stationed at the police department every night.
Police say the idea came about after a mental health training in Salt Lake City, Utah. Several mental health officials and Medford police officers trained in a nationally known program in February. Police say in Utah, mental health calls are treated as a medical problem not a police issue.
Officers say this service is still fairly new but are anticipating it’ll help more than just the person in crisis.
“Overall it’s better for the system. It’s better for the police that we’re going to be able to have more officers on the street and for the hospital to free up bed space for other people who need services,” said Cpl. Schilder.
The mental health workers will also be taking calls from the William Moore Center and Two North at Rogue Regional Medical Center. The health workers will be responsible to go out to calls if either center needs assistance.