Mesa Police Department takes new approach to mental health calls

Jun 7, 2019, 4:55 AM
The Mesa Police Department's crisis response team now has a licensed clinical social worker respond...
The Mesa Police Department's crisis response team now has a licensed clinical social worker responding to calls for service related to mental health issues. (Mesa Police Department Photo)
(Mesa Police Department Photo)

PHOENIX — The Mesa Police Department is taking a new approach to address mental health.

Its crisis response team now has a licensed clinical social worker responding to calls for service along with officers. It’s part of their new Mental Health Co-Responder pilot program.

“We have eight detectives on our crisis response team, and what we provide to the community can be limited,” said Detective Brandi George, a member of the crisis response team. “By bringing a clinician on board, it just expands our resources.”

Since April, detectives with the crisis response team have been working alongside Jenenne Redd, a licensed clinician social worker with Crisis Preparation and Recovery, a behavioral health provider.

“We take her out to the scene, we introduce ourselves and basically stand by while Jenenne talks to them through all of the things that they’re going through and then helps guide them through treatment,” George said.

Redd said she wears a vest for safety and a big patch that says counselor.

“We definitely wanted me to be identified and stand out differently than the police officers, and generally I see a positive response,” she said.

Over the last few months, she has helped with a wide range of calls, including people who are feeling suicidal or homicidal.

Redd was brought on board after the Mesa Police Department started seeing an increase in mental health crisis calls.

Last year, the department received 7,044 calls for services related to mental health issues. That’s up from 4,419 in 2015.

“Bringing Jenenne in enables us to have sometimes hours talking with these people with no interruption to get a better basis of where they are and where they want to be … and then getting them the help that they need,” George said.

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Mesa Police Department takes new approach to mental health calls