Nashville expands program pairing police with mental health workers
Nashville’s Central Precinct is the third and most recent to participate in a crisis response program that equips mental health workers with police.
The precinct, which includes downtown, was added to the program Monday, the Metro Nashville Police Department said in a news release. Currently, a mental health clinician has been added as a co-responder in the Central Precinct. The second is scheduled to take place in June, the MNPD said.
The program equips master-level mental health clinicians with officials on calls flagged as potential mental health crises. The program aims to divert people in crisis to intervention and offer them resources rather than the legal system.
The program launched last summer and is nearing the end of its pilot year. It covered the Hermitage, North and Central precincts and logged 3,000 calls-with only 4% of those resulting in arrests, the MNPD said.
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Town leaders, including Nashville Mayor John Cooper, say they plan to expand the program in the future. A total of 70 MNPD officers have completed 40 hours of crisis training to support precincts without a co-response model-a move intended to support the future progress of the program, the MNPD said. A mobile crisis team is also available in all precincts.
Earlier this month, leaders presented data from the pilot to date and said the town’s South Precinct is expected to participate by the end of the year.
The program is supported by more than $ 560,000 in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan, a news release from the mayor’s office said. Cooper included plans to double the program in his latest budget proposal, in coordination with the Mental Health Cooperative.
Find reporter Rachel Wegner at [email protected] or on Twitter @rachelannwegner.