Kettering adds funds to keep police crisis intervention job, aid mental health cases

KETTERING — For the first time, Kettering is funding a police crisis intervention specialist, a job created from a pilot program to better address mental-health and related calls.

The position originated more than a year ago after the city — along with Dayton, Butler Twp., Vandalia and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office — launched the trial run to embed mental health professionals with police officers.

Kettering funded the job from a $60,000 grant through the Montgomery County Alcohol, Addiction and Mental Health Services.

That money is no longer available, said Tyler Johnson, public information officer for the Kettering Police Department.

Kettering City Manager Mark Schwieterman said the CIS “has been a very successful program over the last year or so and the city’s desire is to continue” it.

Kettering has approved $25,525 — 40% of the cost — this year to contract with South Community Inc. and keep the CIS, records show. The sheriff’s office will finance the remaining 60%, Schwieterman said.

Mayor Peggy Lehner said one police officer told her “he has never seen a staff person have such a profound impact.”

Kettering police last year averaged 5,187 calls for service a month, Johnson said. During the first six months of the program, the CIS made 802 contacts, he added.

“There are multiple examples of success, but generally our repeat calls for individuals with mental health has dropped significantly,” Johnson said in an email.

“Our CIS does a lot of follow up and making sure those individuals are connected with the proper services,” he added.

Police have said officers have limited training in responding to such calls, and a specialist embedded with patrol units provides on-the-spot professional analysis to better address situations that don’t involve serious crimes.

With the proper review, those cases can be more effectively handled by directing those subjects to hospitals, homeless shelters or other alternatives, according to police.

A CIS can help make more efficient use of officers’ time, reduce the number of arrests, help clear space in Kettering’s jail for more serious offenders and reduce the number of court cases, police have said.

South Community’s Nicole Fairburn will continue to work with Kettering police in the CIS role she began more than a year, Johnson said.

Fairburn earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from Bluffton University and a master’s degree in social work from the Ohio State University, officials said.

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