Mental health partnership between Mobile Police and AltaPointe already paying off

MOBILE, Ala. (nothing) -In May, seven Mobile police officers along with AltaPointe spent a week in Harris County, Texas learning techniques to respond to mental health issues. Officers went through various live action simulations to learn how to respond to different mental health episodes.

“It gave me a whole new perspective on approaches and how we can mitigate some of the things we see related to mental health in our community,” said Commander Curtis Graves.

That new perspective was put to the test about two weeks ago when a man barricaded himself in a home on Nack Lane and threatened to kill responding police officers.

“We worked together to find out the mental health history of that individual and what was going on with him,” said Cindy Gipson, associate director of Crisis Services.

This gave officers a better understanding of the situation before a clinician from AltaPointe arrived on scene. Dr. Cindy Gipson says officers were supposed to enter the home, but training led to the patient getting help instead of going to Metro Jail.

“He went right from that situation to an involuntary psychiatric hold and he’s getting the treatment he needs and he’s not being criminalized for those symptoms,” Gipson said.

It’s an intense first run for the program, but Commander Curtis Graves says it’s the perfect result for a scenario like this.

“This is a win for our community. It also reduces the impact on our county jail, but more importantly, it keeps everybody safe, it keeps our officers safe,” Graves said.

This program is still being tested in the third precinct, but AltaPointe and MPD are working to expand it department-wide. Since June over 200 officers have gone through the training and they plan to have every officer trained by the end of the year.

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