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IMPD adding officers to crisis assistance team after increase in mental health calls

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis police are continuing to try and serve the mentally ill by recruiting additional officers to join their Mobile Crisis Assistance Team (MCAT) next year.

Members of MCAT said they’ve seen an increase in mental health crisis calls.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest, many people are calling 2020 one of the most stressful years of their lifetime. Members of the Indianapolis Metropolitan PD Mobile Crisis Assistance Unit said they’re busier than ever.

“About a third of our calls are suicidal thoughts or substance use,” said Sgt. Lance Dardeen.

Currently the team has eight members, but to keep up with the demand they’re adding two more officers. The unit works with clinicians from Eskenazi Hospital to get people the proper help they need. Dardeen said this can save the city money and resources.

“We try to divert away from the criminal justice intuition. When MCAT arrives on scene our non arrest rate is 96%. I think it shows there are more appropriate ways to deal with these mental health issues,” said Dardeen.

Officer Ethan Forrest said the team hopes to work with the community to end the stigma around mental illness.

“If you have a healthy mind you will have a health system. If you do have family members or friends who do have mental health issues it’s OK to ask for help,” said Forrest.

They hope the work they’re doing will encourage other communities to do the same.