ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD (CBS Newspath) – People who suffer from untreated, severe mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during an encounter with law enforcement than other civilians, according to The Treatment Advocacy Center. Thousands of police departments across the country use crisis intervention teams to intercede with the mentally ill.
For 24 hours a day, mental health clinicians answer what’s called a “warm line” inside the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland. “Instead of using the word “hotline,” we use the word “warm line” so that anybody can call,” says Jean Corbin, the director of the Anne Arundel County Crisis Response,
Voted the number one crisis intervention team in the world, the department says it’s putting mental health first.
Lieutenant Steve Thomas heads up the police side of the unit and Jen Corbin heads up the mental health side. “Officers on patrol can call in for a mobile crisis team, it’s their discretion. Anything that’s not a traditional crime, it could be homelessness, it could be someone in crisis, it could be a traditional mental health issue,” says Lt. Thomas.
Lt. Thomas says this approach has led to less crime and fewer arrests. “You’re given an option other than an arrest. Plus, it’s actually addressing a problem far upstream,” he says.
Samuel Mason says he’d been arrested more than 50 times, and then he encountered the crisis intervention team. “Since I met them, I think I have got in trouble one time when I was off my meds, and I ain’t been in trouble in a couple of years now.” Mason says this unit saved his life “a couple times”.
“Right now, our community needs someone that they can call when they don’t have confidence in the police. And our job right now here, Steve and I’s job, is to get them to have faith in police again,” says Corbin.
The team also provides mental health support to police officers and did for members of the Capitol Police department after the January 6th attack.