Pilot program aimed at lowering responses from Bloomington officers to mental health calls
Bloomington police are hoping that a state-funded pilot program being used in their department will help cut down the amount of nonviolent mental health calls their officers respond to in the future.
According to police, the program will provide community members with free and immediate, in-home therapy, adding it will be funded by money the state of Minnesota received through settlements from opioid-related lawsuits, as well as state public safety aid.
Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner Bob Jacobson and Bloomington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Melbye announced the program during a news conference Thursday morning.
In 2022, Bloomington police officers were called to 1,115 incidents that were either related to a mental health crisis or a suicide attempt/threat and have been called to another 952 incidents so far this year. They add follow-up therapy sessions aren’t available for weeks in many of those cases, meaning the probability of a repeated incident goes up.
The school district has been working with the city on the program to make sure it could also help students get mental health services outside school hours.
“When you can remove barriers like traveling, the heat of the moment help that’s needed — time, money — that’s only going to help our students be in school and learn,” Melbye said.
“I’m excited about all of it, but what I’m most excited about is that immediate crisis support that these folks will be able to provide and the follow-up,” Melbye added.
City leaders also announced Thursday that the department will also be a partner agency with the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) in order to provide training, support and resources to help police create non-arrest solutions for these incidents. CLICK HERE to learn more about the PAARI.