MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — Through a continued effort to educate and improve mental health resources, the Murfreesboro Police Department has added their first mental health co-responder.
Heather Noulis will serve in that capacity and is part of Volunteer Behavioral Health Murfreesboro. She will work with the department’s Crisis Intervention Team.
“Police departments from across the state are reaching out to us for different mental health trainings,” Volunteer Behavioral Health Clinical Director Beth Walser said. “Certain departments are also starting to get some co-responders embedded in their police departments.”
Walser told News 2 how these counselors not only help those in crisis, but can serve as a resource for officers who are going through PTSD or trauma.
“Being able to offer empathy, that listening ear and that safe place is for starters,” Walser said. “This helps to deescalate that situation.”
After January 27th’s officer involved shooting in Nashville, several Middle Tennessee Police department’s have felt pressure to add mental health counselors.
Murfreesboro police have worked on their mental health resources prior to that shooting. According to police, 60 officers and dispatchers have gone through a 40-hour crisis intervention training course. The department also requires all other officers to go through specialized mental health training.
“We’re just excited to see this department continue to grow and have positive outcomes with everyone we encounter,” Murfreesboro Police Training Officer Quentin Peeler said.
The department will continue to look at resources to address mental health in the community.