Crisis intervention specialist helps Kettering police assess mental health calls

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

KETTERING – A crisis intervention specialist is working with the Kettering Police Department, assisting patrol officers on calls involving mental-health and related issues.

Kettering 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, said Joe Ferrell, the KPD’s public information officer.

“One of the goals will be to help increase our efficiency to help citizens who are subject to any mental health related condition,” Ferrell said.

“And that can include substance abuse because we’ll have a mental health professional on the scene in a lot of those calls,” he added. “We’re hoping to reduce the number of our calls per service for individuals suffering from these issues.”

The CIS is being funded through a $60,000 grant obtained by the Montgomery County Alcohol, Addiction and Mental Health Services, according to that organization.

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.

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