Chief Wray's Blog

Madison Police Department's Mental Health Liaison Program

April 14, 2014 3:53 PM

Each and every Madison Police Department officer is trained to respond to and to handle calls that involve persons with a mental illness by use of compassion, appropriate communication/de-escalation and stabilization skills and to work collaboratively toward an effective resolution.  We have a long-standing commitment to partner with mental health providers in order to improve services to those with a mental illness.  Our commitment started in the 1980's when we initially dedicated a full time sergeant position to serve as a liaison to the mental health agencies in our area.  We have expanded over the years and in 2004 we established our Mental Health Liaison Program. For 2014 we have 18 volunteer officers and one program coordinator spread throughout our five districts who serve as Mental Health Liaison Officers.

The officers that comprise our Mental Health Liaison Program are regularly assigned patrol officers who volunteer and are selected to be part of the program.  Their primary responsibilities as a liaison are to identify ongoing issues and coordinate follow-up efforts with partner agencies, initiate outreach to residents in their respective districts with mental health concerns, serve as points-of-contact regarding mental health systems issues, conduct trainings, attend relevant community meetings and share necessary information both internally and externally as appropriate.  Mental Health Liaisons also respond to crises when available but this is not their main priority because, as stated above, all officers with our department are trained to handle individuals with mental health concerns.  The Mental Health Liaisons are an added resource to our community and to our officers.  They work within and across districts to provide a coordinated, consistent and collaborative response to those with a mental illness.  Liaisons work reactively but more importantly proactively when it comes to our specialized approach to serve those in our community with a mental illness.

We are proud to have been selected by the Council of State Governments Justice Assistance as one of six national law enforcement/mental health learning sites based on the strength of our training program, specialized response, and our unique approach to serve those in our community with mental illnesses.  Our success over the years with providing specialized police services to persons with a mental illness has been possible due to the collaborative efforts of our mental health community partners which include NAMI Dane County, Journey Mental Health Center and local hospitals.  The Mental Health Liaison Program coordinator also meets on a regular basis with the following agency representatives to discuss our systems and how we can work together to improve services to persons who a mental illness: District Attorney's office, Dane County Sheriff's Department, Journey Mental Health, Probation/Parole Departments, Mendota Mental Health and others.     

Through continued education, training and collaboration we can feel confident and proud of the police and community services we provide to those suffering from mental illness.  To learn more about our Mental Health Liaison Program please visit our website at: http://www.cityofmadison.com/police/community/mentalhealth/

If you wish to contact a liaison please contact the Mental Health Liaison Program Coordinator, Captain Kristen Roman at kroman@cityofmadison.com, and she can direct you to one of your district's liaison officers.

Posted by: Interim Chief Gaber

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