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Community Response Team Addresses Mental Illness

From Tulsa's Mayor by Mayor G. T. Bynum



Tulsans are pulling together to address mental illness and suicide through a groundbreaking program called the Community Response Team (CRT).

CRT is an innovative, first-responder collaboration project between the Mental Health Association OK (MHAO), Tulsa Police Department (TPD), Tulsa Fire Department (TFD), Family & Children’s Services’ (F&CS) and Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Services (COPES).

The CRT is a great example of our approach to problem solving: We are breaking down the old parochial silos and bringing together the best experts in our community to address a specific need. This helps us deliver better service to the citizens we serve.

The three-person Community Response Team consists of a Tulsa police officer, a Tulsa fire paramedic and a mental health therapist who are able to address any security threats, healthcare needs and mental health crises going on in people’s lives. Last month the Tulsa Area United Way gave more than $100,000 in special community collaboration funding, allowing the CRT to respond to calls two days each week.

I greatly appreciate the Tulsa Area United Way for its strong support of our innovative CRT program and am eager for us to serve more Tulsans in need throughout the year. Community partnerships like this help strengthen our community policing efforts in Tulsa. TPD and TFD are removing barriers between City departments and non-profit collaborators to deliver better service to the citizens we serve.

In 2017 alone, 13,000 911 calls were mental health crisis calls – each one taking time and effort from first responders and, ultimately taking them away from crime-related calls. Now, the CRT can give expert care to a person suffering from mental illness, so our patrol officers and emergency personnel can get back on the streets.

All CRT first responders undergo Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), and mental health professionals complete specialized training in mobile crisis response and crisis intervention through Family and Children’s Services COPES. CIT training is a model for our community policing efforts that bring together law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency departments and individuals with mental illness and their families to improve responses to people in crisis.

By collaborating with highly valued community partners on public safety endeavors, we’re building a safer Tulsa for all citizens.

For more information on Community Policing and to see the progress report dashboard, visit www.cityoftulsa.org/police.

Updated 02-19-2018

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