FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — The City of Frederick and the Frederick Police Department have launched a mental health co-responder pilot program to help deescalate high-stress situations.
“We recognize that in not all instances are the police, necessarily the best first responders,” said Mayor Micheal O’Connor. “That is particularly true when you’re talking about mental health or substance use or housing crisis.”
The Frederick Police Department Crisis Car is designed to take a different approach to mental health crisis response by paring mental health professionals with first responders.
“Our goal with the program is to improve outcomes and decrease the need to use force and mitigate the need to use the criminal justice system as a means for dealing with people in crisis,” said Chief of Police Jason Lando.
The Crisis Car is unmarked police, which will be staffed five days a week in the afternoon. It will pair a non-uniformed Frederick Police officer, mental health professional, and an EMT/paramedic from Frederick County Fire and Rescue Services. Officials say, by utilizing all the community resources, this new program is community policing at its best.
“Mental illness is a health issue, not a crime,” Scott Rose, Chief of Rehabilitation and Recovery Services at Sheppard Pratt. “This traveling trifecta really is going to be able to give these residents in need what we all need when we’re in pain. Be protected by law enforcement, be comforted by mobile crisis, and be healed by EMS.”
The program is a joint partnership between the Frederick Police Department, Sheppard Pratt, the Mental Health Association of Frederick County, The City of Frederick Department of Housing & Human Services, and the Frederick County Health Department.