Kettering police responded to an average of slightly more than 1,000 calls a week last year, city records show.
“At least a handful of times a day” they involve mental health, drug addiction, depression, potential suicidal tendencies involving “low-grade misdemeanors,” Ferrell said.
Often, he said, cases – with the proper analysis – can be more effectively handled by directing those subjects to hospitals, homeless shelters or other alternatives.
Assistance from a crisis intervention specialist 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, Ferrell added.
South Community’s Nicole Fairburn is now working with Kettering police 40 hours a week, about half of that time spent with officers on patrol, he 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.
Fairburn will serve as a “civilian back up” while with patrol officers, Ferrell said.
Her duties “won’t be anything in the way of investigating crimes or interviews or anything like that,” he said.
“She’s literally just a civilian asset that we can use when it comes to trying to figure out what some options are when it comes to a mental health patient/addiction patient as well to see if we can get them somewhere,” Ferrell added.
In addition to riding with patrols, Fairburn’s time will also be spent in the office following up on cases, he said.