Created: October 08, 2019 11:14 PM
The Mason City Police Department has been awarded a grant by the Bureau of Justice Assistance through the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program for $480,000. The grant will help the department implement recommendations they outlined in a planning guide they've developed. MCPD has been working with local mental health stakeholders to improve outcomes for several years.
"I think they saw that there were some viable options in there that were cost-effective, that were efficient, and that made good use of our local resources,” said Chief Jeff Brinkley.
The grant will go towards training officers in mental health, including crisis intervention and de-escalation training and virtual reality mental health training. It will also assist with something new for MCPD, mobile injection therapy.
"We'll have an officer accompany medical personal to administer medication and injections to clients in the field because we've learned that sometimes mental health patients don't want to go into their doctor’s office," explained Brinkley.
"We try not to criminalize mental health. So if we can slow down the action when we get there, in terms of not having to use force on people with mental health, not arrest them, not put them in jails, those are good things. Typically we're reducing injuries to the officers and to the patients," Brinkley said.
That keeps officers safe and out of bad outcomes like litigation. Chief Brinkley says putting individuals with mental health issues in jail has always been a last resort for them.
"I think our officers have shown an ability to get it right and to look for all the other options before jail. We're going to try and build on that," said Brinkley.
The Mason City Police Department hopes to use the grant to begin their training by spring of 2020.
Copyright 2019 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company