Chico Police Chief Mike O'Brien has kicked off a new era in how law enforcement responds to situations involving mental health breakdowns. Tuesday, his department donated a white Crown Victoria to the Butte County Behavioral Health Department. With that donation, local mental health workers will now respond, when necessary, to calls involving these kinds of crisis. These counselors make up the new "Mobile Crisis Unit," and will be available to respond 7 days a week, during daytime shifts. O'Brien says they can also be called after-hours, if necessary. He adds that they've been trained to listen to the police scanner, and can help determine with a mental health counselor is needed.
Manson Petty is a Behavioral Health Counselor. He says sometimes, people are too fearful of talking to law enforcement, and counselors often have a prior, established relationship with the patient that helps them de-escalate the situation more quickly. Says Petty, "A lot of times, they will calm down and talk to us and communicate through us what they want them (police) to know what they are talking about."
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