Algonquin police, crisis program working together

ALGONQUIN – To help increase knowledge when dealing with mental health situations, the Algonquin Police Department and the McHenry County Crisis Program have started a new collaborative effort.

The entities have partnered to provide reciprocal support for encounters with people who have potential mental health issues.

The crisis program is run by Centegra Health System.

Under the partnership, Centegra will provide police officers with “knowledge, training and resources to deal with the potential danger and crises when dealing with the mentally ill,” Police Chief Russell Laine said in a news release.

“It will also help foster the alliance necessary between law enforcement and mental health agencies to provide much-needed services to our community,” Laine added.

The crisis program will provide Algonquin with a licensed clinical social worker for at least one year, who will work in non-emergent case consultations, encounters with individuals with mental health issues in the community, and ride-alongs. There also will be training in crisis intervention, proper completion of petitions, how drugs affect moods, suicide and recognition of common mental health disorders.

The police department will provide copies of all reports that involve mental health emergencies to the crisis program liaison within 24 hours of their occurrence. No medical information will be exchanged between the crisis program and the police department, said Despina McBride, clinical manager for the McHenry County Crisis program.

Mental health professionals will receive training on safety protocols to follow, such as what to look for when entering a person’s home, looking at the surrounding environment or having a clear exit route, McBride said.
The police department and the crisis program will communicate about shared clients and recommendations for treatment.

The entities will be able to learn from each other, McBride said.

“We deal with the same people, but we think differently,” McBride said.

McBride said the crisis program employee will provide 12 training sessions about mental health disorders and how to respond to someone who is showing symptoms, among other things.

She said the crisis program and the Algonquin Police Department do a lot of work together and putting this agreement in place is something they have wanted to do.

“We have a good relationship with them,” McBride said. “We work with them quite a bit.”

McBride said the crisis program doesn’t have similar agreements with other departments but does respond when called.

In July, there were seven requests from law enforcement where crisis workers went to police departments to meet with clients. The crisis program also had 255 total crisis assessments during the month and 1,178 calls to the crisis line.

McBride said she hopes to put other agreements in place with other departments.

“If we find it beneficial to police, we will try to target other police departments,” McBride said.

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