The Community Crisis Response Team with Deschutes County Behavioral Health is no longer responding to some 911 calls with law enforcement. Their initial response can now just be a therapist and a case manager.
“I think being able to respond to the community without law enforcement will make a big difference,” Case Manager Krista Brown with the crisis response team said. “Law enforcement can kind of exacerbate the client’s presentation. So being able to come in with therapists I think is a big deal.”
Brown made it clear that the team will still be working closely with law enforcement, but the two will respond separately to calls if a police presence is not initially necessary. These types of calls include low-risk, mental health related issues. The team predicts they will take around 3-5% of 911 calls in the next year.
Serving as a 911 dispatcher in East Texas for six years, Brown told us she feels calm in chaotic situations.
“Just with the types of clients we have, I’m already used to talking to people that are on the worst day of their life, in the worst situation imaginable,” Brown said.
Program Manager Adam Goggins with Deschutes County Behavioral Health explained crisis team members will be completely unarmed.
“We’re going to have to keep an eye out for ourselves and radio for backup if we need to,” Goggins said. “Those are changes that we’re implementing.”
Crisis responders will be unarmed except for the tools in their belts.
“Distance, time and verbal skills,” according to Goggins.
Brown said police are already thankful for the help.
“We get that all the time, ‘Thank you for taking this person because we don’t know what else to do with them,'” Brown said.
Community members will still have to call 911 for crisis situations, but the call will likely be given to the crisis response team going forward.