Law enforcement agencies in KC’s Northland get support from mental health experts

Northland law enforcement officers are getting more support from mental health experts. “We can’t do much like law enforcement unless someone is in a crisis,” the sergeant said. Paul Campbell of the Riverside Police Department. Having mental health experts ready to respond is essential, he said. “We can’t go into that call and deal with it in a few minutes and then leave,” he explained. “We have to spend extra time on these calls,” he said, “so having the experts taking care of them for us definitely frees us up to deal with other issues.” Northland departments benefit from the expansion of the Tree County Mental Health Services Community Behavioral Health Communication Program. This fall, it grew from one to four physicians, who work with law enforcement to answer calls related to mental health concerns. “We try to build a good relationship with them in an effort to help them know that they can trust us, that Tri-County cares about them and wants them to be successful and in good health,” said Peggy Gorenflo, who oversees the CBHL program in Tri-County. The goal, she says, is to connect people in crisis with the services they need, perhaps keeping them out of prison or the emergency room. “Sometimes it’s a revolving door because they take them to the emergency room, the emergency department doesn’t put them in a facility and they go straight home. Law enforcement gets called over and over again,” Gorinflo said. Law enforcement goes home six times in one day.” “We might get a call related to criminal behavior or drug behavior, but mental health is really the underlying problem,” Campbell said. One physician works full time with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the others are assigned to work with multiple agencies in Platte, Clay and Ray counties. Missouri recently invested in CBHL programs statewide, based on the growing number of mental health calls to the police. Gorneflo says the need for mental health help has increased during the pandemic, and “when things started opening up, the calls definitely increased,” she said. “Especially for teens. Lots of kids really struggle with mental health calls.” Doctors can make calls to officers or follow up afterward.” Maybe they go home with an officer just to check in and see how things are going after a crisis, so we can prevent crises in “They have the services they need so they don’t fall through the gaps,” Gorenflo said. “It’s a collaborative effort that improves results.” We are a team. “We’ve been able to really impact a lot of lives,” Gorneflo said. A fifth doctor will join the Trey County CBHL team in January. They will work with departments within Clay County, including Smithville, Gladstone, and northern Kansas City.

Northland law enforcement officers are getting more support from mental health experts.

“We can’t do much like law enforcement unless someone is in a crisis,” the sergeant said. Paul Campbell of the Riverside Police Department. Having mental health experts ready to respond is essential, he said.

“We can’t go into that call and deal with it in a few minutes and then leave,” he explained. “We have to spend extra time on these calls, so having the experts take care of them for us definitely frees us up to deal with other issues,” he said.

Northland departments benefit from the expansion of the Tri-County Mental Health Services Community Behavioral Health Communication Program. This fall, it grew from one to four physicians, who work with law enforcement to answer calls related to mental health concerns.

“We try to build a good relationship with them in an effort to help them know that they can trust us, that Tri-County cares about them and wants them to be successful and in good health,” said Peggy Gorenflo, who oversees the CBHL program in Tri-County. The goal, she says, is to connect people in crisis with the services they need, perhaps keeping them out of prison or the emergency room.

“Sometimes it’s a revolving door because they take them to the emergency room, the emergency department doesn’t put them in a facility and they go straight home. Law enforcement is called over and over again,” Gorinflo said. The law goes home six times in one day.”

“We may get a call related to criminal behavior or drug behavior, but mental health is really the underlying issue,” Campbell said.

One full-time physician is integrated with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the others are tasked with working with multiple agencies in Platte, Clay and Ray counties.

Missouri recently invested in CBHL programs statewide, based on the growing number of mental health calls to the police. Gorenflo says the need for mental health assistance has increased during the pandemic.

“When things started opening up, the calls definitely increased,” she said. “Especially for teenagers. A lot of kids really struggle with mental health calls.”

Doctors can place calls with officers or follow up afterward.

“Maybe they go home with an officer just to check in and see how things are going after the crisis, so we can prevent future crises,” Gorenflo said. “They have the services they need so they don’t fall through the loopholes.”

It is a collaborative effort that improves results.

“We are a team. We’ve been able to really, really make an impact on a lot of lives,” Gorenflo said.

A fifth doctor will join the Trey County CBHL team in January. They will work with departments within Clay County, including Smithville, Gladstone, and northern Kansas City.

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