Brooklyn Park Police to Test New Mental Health Initiative
A new partnership between Brooklyn Park police and Hennepin County aims to help people suffering from mental health issues. The program could save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Brooklyn Park police say that in the past several years, calls related to mental health crises have increased by more than 100 percent.
So in the next few months, the police department will begin a pilot program with Hennepin County that will embed a mental health professional in Brooklyn Park to provide assistance for those who need it.
“A lot of times, when we’re dealing with someone that’s suffering from a mental illness, we have to detain them,” said Brooklyn Park Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen. “And we get hurt. Sometimes they get hurt. So any opportunity to not have that encounter with law enforcement and someone suffering from that disease is beneficial.”
Enevoldsen says the plan would be to go with a ‘case management approach,’ meaning that if an officer responds to a mental health call, then later that week, a detective and a mental health professional will follow up with the person who was in crisis.
Reducing the Cost Burden
The hope is that this intervention will reduce the burden on the courts, the jail, the hospitals and ultimately, the taxpayers.
“The cost is immense,” Enevoldsen said. “We did just a very cursory look at the number of individuals that we had go to the hospital via ambulance in one year, we then contacted North Memorial — where many of them go — and just asked, between the ambulance ride and the doctor’s visit, how much that is. It’s roughly about $2,000 just to walk in the door. Times the number of individuals that we place on holds, it was like $1.7 million in one year. So we’re looking to hopefully reduce those costs to the taxpayers as well. And then lastly, just get the people the help that they need.”
The two-year pilot program would begin in either February or March. Brooklyn Park police would pay half the salary for the mental health professional, as well as an intern who would help with data collection and analysis. Hennepin County, meanwhile, would pay the other half.
The overall cost to the city would be $80,000 each year, Enevoldsen said.