NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Metro Nashville Police Department launched a pilot program on Monday pairing mental health professionals with officers daily to respond to calls for service.
“When police have to respond and we’re not immediately there with them, then it can take a lot longer to get somebody treatment. So, if we’re automatically there with them then we can get them treatment just so much faster,” said Mental Health Cooperative Crisis Counselor Jennifer Knox.
Knox was the first to ride along with an officer out of the North Nashville precinct. She helped four patients find resources for treatment and took one person to the mobile crisis center.
Knox said it’s important to get proper evaluations to those suffering from mental health issues, especially in a dangerous situation.
“There might be times where they would go to jail when instead it would benefit them to get mental health treatment. In which case if we were there, we could give our opinion and they could get mental health treatment instead of going to jail,” Knox said.
Chief John Drake said six counselors and six officers will be paired daily to respond to any mental health calls in the North and Hermitage precincts to start. But eventually he wants to expand the program across the city.
“We’re going to do everything within our power to bring this to the entire city because I feel it’s what we need,” Drake said.
Mental Health Cooperative counselors will go out five days a week on calls. All officers involved in the program were required to complete a 40-hour training.