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BPD launches innovative mental health pilot program

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Many 911 calls about people suffering a mental health crisis result in a visit from a police officer and often an emergency room visit, but an innovative pilot program announced last fall by Bloomington Police Chief Booker T. Hodges, pictured above, will reduce those incidents by providing community members with immediate in-home therapy at no cost.

Meeting the need: Last year, BPD responded to 1,115 calls related to a mental health crisis, or suicide attempt or threat. As of early December 2023, there have been 952 calls. In many cases, follow-up therapy sessions are not available for weeks after the initial contact with law enforcement and social workers. Without professional treatment and intervention, the potential for repeat incidents increases.

“Our core value here at the Bloomington Police Department is respect, and respect is demonstrated through our compassionate and honest service. I believe that it’s not very compassionate to allow someone who needs and wants help to go months without getting the help they need,” Chief Hodges said.

How: The first-in-Minnesota program will include two licensed marriage and family counselors who will be embedded within the Bloomington Police Department. The two therapists will supervise four students who are completing their clinical practice requirements.

Individuals will receive services at no cost. Appointments will be available in-person at their home or another convenient location. School facilities and workplaces cannot be used as meeting locations.

Timeline and funding: The pilot program, which began in December 2023, will cost $63,000 and be paid for with funds from the state’s opioid settlements and state Public Safety Aid funds.

Resources: The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7 for anyone in need of mental health crisis services. You can call or text 988 for support.