GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Law enforcement for the City of Grand Junction will be participating in the Co-Responder model, which partners law enforcement officers with behavioral health specialists, such as social workers, to help aid during mental-health-related calls.
"So this program is going to offer training for the law enforcement officers to help identify individuals who are suffering from mental illness or a substance abuse disorder", says Jagruti Shah the Director for Criminal Justice Services for Colorado Department of Human Services.
While law enforcement receives much training in preparation for situations like this, having the ability to reference a social worker can help officers make clearer decisions on approaching a situation.
"The police officers are very very well trained on behavioral control techniques, on ways to interact with the public. The people with brain conditions or mental health conditions don't always react in the same sort of manner that somebody not suffering from these conditions will. That's why a behavioral health specialist is a good consultant to have on the scene to provide information that might be important for the officers", says Chris Young a Clinical Psychologist for Behavioral Health & Wellness.
This training and pairing also include our deputies with the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.
"There will be one team of a police officer and a social worker and another team of a deputy and a social worker", says Mike Nordine the Chief Interim Officer for the GJPD.
As for the grant money awarded to make this all happen, while that number has not been confirmed yet, it could be up to $362,500 per year for a total of 5 years and is paid for by marijuana tax money.
"SB 17-207 was looking at enhancing additional services in the crisis system that was founded about 5 years ago and that was really looking at identifying some of the gaps and law enforcement needed resources as opposed taking them to the jails and prison systems, this is allowing them to link them to community-based services", says Shah.