ONTARIO COUNTY, N.Y. (WROC) – Law enforcement agencies are responding to more mental health calls than ever before. The Ontario County Sheriff deputies in the field are using I-pads as a tool to consult with mental health practitioners when they respond to those types of calls.
According to Sheriff Kevin Henderson, the program will help deputies to determine whether or not that person should be transported or it could be left in the community, then be referred to another service. Henderson said this would help reduce the need for custodial transports to the hospital.
Practitioners at Clifton Springs Hospital will be able to video-chat with deputies in the field. It’ll help them make a better determination what mental health services may best meet the needs of a person involved. Ontario County sheriff says this is a vital tool for law enforcement since they’re mostly on the front lines with these types of calls.
“Now more law enforcement is on the front lines; we’re going to respond to the calls. We need to determine if somebody is in a crisis, either they’re going to hurt themselves or others. And it is very time-consuming when we do get involved in these types of investigations,” said Sheriff Kevin Henderson, Ontario County.
It’s a pilot program where four counties in the state were selected. Deputies must be trained in crisis intervention to take part in the program.
“What we would like to see happen is that the number of transports we make to the hospital maybe wasn’t essential, we won’t have to do those anymore because we would have access and this consultation with mental health can help us make a better decision,” said Sgt. Mark Taylor, Ontario County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is a very timely way for us to make a determination do we need to drop what we’re doing now and act now and mobilize or is this someone we can schedule an appointment for which allows our team to use our resources to hit our priorities to where the need is,” said Joe Majauskas, Director of Behavioral Health at Rochester Regional Health.
The program uses zoom healthcare software that is compliant with HIPPA laws and is sponsored by the state senate.