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New program in Clark County will change how police respond to mental health crisis calls

The program will help officers' assess a situation to determine if that person should go to a mental health facility for an evaluation instead of going to jail.

CLARK COUNTY, Ind. — Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 Judge Dan Moore is reinstating a program that will address how police respond to those in a mental health crisis. 

The program is called Crisis Intervention Team, it's a collaboration between police and mental health providers such as Lifespring and Wellstone. 

Judge Moore said the program is not mandatory for officers, but he hopes that all departments will want to participate.

Officers will have the opportunity to assess a situation and determine whether that person needs to go to a mental health hospital for a 24-hour evaluation, instead of going to jail. 

The program has been implemented in cities across the nation, with results varying in each. 

The program will be lead by Amanda Beam and will focus on non-violent offenders who may be in a mental health crisis. 

Moore says the program will make sure people get the help they need, and make jails safer. He hopes that all officers in Clark County will receive this training. 

 "We treat injuries to the arm, we treat all kinds of injuries to the lungs, we need to start treating mental health in a serious way," he said.

Moore is hoping the program will reduce the jail population in Clark County, but also provide the court with more background information on offenders. 

"We will know more about the person other than he is a number and here is what his charge is," he said. 

There is currently a similar program, Project CARE, between Lifespring and Jeffersonville Police Department. 

According to Denise Poukish, the Senior Vice President of Forensic Services at Lifespring, all of the Jeffersonville Police Department have received their training. 

The two programs will work alongside each other, with Project CARE embedding social workers and peer recovery specialists alongside Jeffersonville Police Department. 

CTI will focus on training mechanisms for police and collaborative agreements between mental health hospitals in order to place people there. 

There will be a major training session for officers on April 22.

Contact reporter Elle Smith at esmith@whas11.com or on her social media outlets: Facebook or Twitter.  

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