Montrose, CO — The Montrose Police Department recently purchased an equipped vehicle for the department’s mental health co-responder that was paid for by a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
In 2019, the city applied for a Peace Officer Mental Health Grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA)in the amount of $42,745 to purchase the vehicle.
The city has seen an increase in individuals dealing with mental health issues throughout the community. Many of these issues have led to crisis situations. Mental health issues in the community are a serious concern and a public safety priority. Persons in crisis require tailored responses by law enforcement to de-escalate and mitigate these situations to ensure the best outcome.
In April of 2018, the Montrose Police Department (MPD) partnered with the Center for Mental Health and adopted a mental health co-responder program. The program allows a masters-level mental health clinician to be integrated with law enforcement officers, both in the police headquarters and on patrol.
The salary of the clinician is paid by the Center for Mental Health. The program is designed so the officer and clinician respond together to individuals in crisis to de-escalate and mitigate the crisis on-site.
The purchase of a designated vehicle for the mental health clinician will allow the clinician to respond autonomously, stay on scene to deliver patient services, and complete follow-up visits, while freeing up officers for additional calls for service. The responding police officer(s) will stay on scene if there is a safety need. The grant will also purchase a radio for the clinician’s safety.
“This is a great step forward for our agency in providing better support to an at-risk population in our community, and we are thankful to DOLA for awarding us this grant,” said Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall.
In addition to the vehicle, the Police Department is using a portion of the grant funds to train and certify five officers in peer support counseling. The trained officers will be available to employees as peer support 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
Hall said peer support is a critical component of any modern law enforcement agency.
“Our officers see and experience things no one should see in a lifetime. Officers need access to trained law enforcement peer support specialists who understand the profession and can assist officers and their families when the job takes a toll on their mental health wellbeing,” Hall said.