The Cleveland Police Department was chosen through a pilot program that allowed them to hire their first mental health co-respondent
The co-responder will assist officers responding to community members having any type of mental health crisis and provide de-escalation, assessment and resources.
Mark Gibson is the head of CPD. He said it is a department that will help reduce the number of unnecessary incarcerations for the mentally ill.
“That’s our goal, we want to take care of people, whatever their problem. If it’s a substance abuse or mental health issue, we want to be able to provide those services without the possibility of just going to jail,” Gibson said. “You know, that seems to be the trend and we don’t want to do that. We want to get them somewhere where they get the help they need.
CPD’s Public Information Officer, Evie West, assisted in the hiring process. She said she knows this is a unique role that requires someone who is patient and compassionate.
“We are looking for agents who are caring, compassionate and empathetic towards the needs of our community. And we have to understand that we are dealing with people, human beings who would rather not be in that situation,” West said. “And so find someone who has a lot of patience and uses wisdom on how to make decisions going forward.”
Funding for the pilot program ends in March 2023. The Cleveland Police Department is currently trying to seek additional grants to cover future costs.