Albany County expanding mental health crisis pilot program

ALBANI, NY (NEWS10) – The Albany County Responsible Crisis Response and Transformation (ACCORD) program has received $350,000 in government funding for an expansion. The program is designed to improve the outcomes of nonviolent emergency calls.

“This is good news for Albany County,” said Andrew Joyce, chair of the Albany County Legislature. “It’s only been a year since the County of Albany made its initial investment in ACCORD and has proactively changed how we handle nonviolent calls for emergency help. This funding is the kind of investment we need to ensure people get the proper help they need and our police can focus on dealing with crime “.

The program will be able to expand to participating municipalities across the province and offset staffing, equipment and training costs. The ACCORD program was officially launched in Western Albany County in June 2021.

The pilot program consists of two response teams, with social workers from the county’s mobile crisis team and paramedics from the sheriff’s office, who are trained to handle situations involving mental health and nonviolent emergencies where law enforcement is not necessary.

As of December, the county said the program has assisted more than 100 people with about 240 follow-up phone and in-person interactions. Everyone was connected to the services they needed, which reduced the number of calls to sending 911.

“The ACCORD pilot demonstrated the concept that not all 911 calls need a police response. By getting social workers and mental health paramedics to respond to some nonviolent mental health calls, it has freed law enforcement to be dispatched to more prominent calls that require a police response,” he said. Sheriff Craig Apple “As ACCORD Expands, This Will Increase Public Safety At The County Level”

The current pilot program uses two social workers and two paramedics or EMTs to cover two 8-hour periods. Most municipalities are expected to require three social workers or other qualified mental health professionals as well as two paramedics or EMTs. Larger municipalities may require a larger team to cover the area.

Initial plans for expansion include a commitment from interested municipalities to accept ACCORD’s mission and values, establishing a working relationship with resources provided by the county depending on the jurisdiction and providing essential resources including equipment, personnel, and vehicles.

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