INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is resolving some emergency situations without taking anyone to jail.
IMPD’s behavioral health unit started the Mobile Crisis Assistance Team, also called MCAT, to respond to crises involving mental health or substance abuse three years ago. Their runs have been cleared without arrest 96.6% of the time, according to the police department.
IMPD Sgt. Lance Dardeen, the unit supervisor, said, “We are partnered up with the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center and we have a clinician for every officer that goes out and just try to get people connected to the most appropriate service.
Types of situations the team responds to including mental health issues, suicide or self-harm, substance abuse, domestic violence, gravely disabled or physical health issues.
“Sometimes it’s a normal type of call. A street officer or a district officer will respond and very quickly realize that it’s a mental health crisis so they can hit us on the radio and an MCAT unit can respond with his partner from Eskenazi,” Dardeen said.
The sergeant said more than 900 officers receive special training including eight hours of mental health first aid and 40 hours of MCAT training on how to de-escalate a situation. Officers first look at signs and symptoms before a clinician steps into to help.
IMPD Officer David Kuchta-Drane, a member of MCAT, told News 8, “It’s a team and you kind of feed off one another. While our clinician sometimes is working with one person on scene getting information, the officer is a part of that team. The MCAT officer goes out and is working with maybe other family members getting information, maybe the subject himself.”
The team takes people into protective custody for them to receive a mental health evaluation at a hospital or treatment facility instead of making an arrest.
“This is very important. when it comes down to restoring community values. A person’s mental health and mental stability has a lot to do with restoring those community values. Some assistance sometimes getting back on track with those,” Kutcha-Drane said.
- ACLU of Indiana proposes reallocation of IMPD resources amid nationwide calls to ‘defund police’
- IMPD unit focuses on mental health to free up police resources
- Indy launches first Mobile Crisis Assistance initiative
- NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Be Well Indiana Crisis Helpline: 211
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
“Tonight, during the City-County Council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee, an enhanced IMPD-Health and Hospital Corporation team approach was presented to respond to emergency calls where there is a behavioral health issue. This approach will include enhanced training, resources, and improved outcomes for emergency response situations on a county-wide basis. The program will be implemented in three phases, and an amendment to the IMPD budget was offered by Councillors John Barth and Dan Boots that ensures council oversight of the roll out, regular data-driven updates, and public-facing reporting.
“‘I appreciate the partnership both IMPD and HHC forged working on this important program. They listened to our concerns and the concerns of our constituents. We all agree there is a need for more and better behavioral health services, and they responded with a solid plan that will lead to better outcomes for the people of Indianapolis,’ said District 7 Councilor John Barth”
“District 3 Councillor Dan Boots added, ‘Tonight’s action is just one of many current and future proposals designed to refine the concept of ‘public safety’ in our community. We will continue to examine opportunities to reallocate resources to better address what we know are some of the root causes behind the increase in violent crime in our city, to better address racial inequity, and to improve our mental/behavioral health services in our city that have been decimated by years of underfunding.’”Angela Plank, public affairs manager, Indianapolis City-County Council
“I want to thank my Council colleagues and our city’s public health and safety agencies for their hard work over the past few months to respond to the concerns of Councillors and constituents in this budget process. Step by step, we will continue working with our partners to elevate the public voice in public safety policies and address root causes of crime and violence in our city and ensure our police department and all of our public safety and criminal justice agencies have the resources and staff they need to do their jobs and keep our community safe.”Leroy Robinson, Indianapolis City-County Council Public Safety & Criminal Justice Chairman