Johnson County Mental Health Center will add an additional full-time co-responder to provide crisis intervention assistance to the City of Overland Park Police Department. The new position was authorized during the Sept. 17 Board of County Commission meeting.
“Our co-responders provide a vital service to those with mental health needs who come in contact with law enforcement,” said Board of County Commissioners Chairman Ed Eilert. “They respond to crisis situations and connect residents and their families with the resources they need to prevent further incidents requiring law enforcement presence.”
Johnson County Mental Health Center implemented a pilot project in 2011 with two co-responders embedded with the Olathe Police Department to provide mental health assistance to law enforcement officers when responding to emergency calls involving behavioral health. With this position, the program now includes 12 co-responders, serving 12 law enforcement agencies and one school district. This is the third co-responder with the Overland Park Police Department. As part of the Co-Responder Program, a qualified mental health professional is paired with an officer to provide an intervention that results in the least restrictive response, as a trauma-informed approach.
“This collaboration has allowed us to more effectively respond to the needs of Overland Park residents experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez. “We share in Johnson County’s goal of keeping those with mental illness out of the criminal justice system and getting them connected to the resources they need.”
“Partnerships like these are an important piece of the puzzle in addressing the mental health needs in our community, with the right support at the right time,” said Tim DeWeese, Johnson County Mental Health Center director. “The Co-Responder Program has been shown to be effective in supporting officers to safely divert individuals from jail and emergency rooms with their interventions.”
For those experiencing a mental health crisis or have concerns about someone in need, call 913-268-0156. Get more information about the Co-Responder Program.