Rockford, Illinois News

Co-responder mental health team completes training

ROCKFORD – The team of police officers and mental health professionals assembled to respond to behavioral-crisis calls has completed training and is ready for service.

In addition to hearing from law enforcement and panel discussions, the five-member team’s weeklong training included how to recognize warning signs of substance abuse and potential overdose, dos and don’ts of crisis intervention, verbal deescalation, and mental health first aid.

The team also participated in mentorship discussions with other agencies who operate similar programs. 

“The training provided by Rosecrance has positioned the cohort team to better serve the residents of our community through this program,” said Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea. 

During the three-month pilot program, unit members will respond and provide follow-up and connection to community resources. Rockford Police, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office and Rosecrance will share the cost of program through their existing budgets. 

“As the work begins for this pilot program, we look forward to the measuring the effectiveness of the program so we can adjust as necessary and plan for long-term solutions,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said. 

With mental health concerns continuing to grow during the pandemic, the pilot program is well timed.

“We see greater need each day for our resources at Rosecrance,” said Dave Gomel, president of Rosecrance Health Network. “Reaching people in crisis with this co-responder team will provide timely, appropriate resources to help connect them with the care they need, when they need it.” 

Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana said: “The team is now ready to respond to crisis calls. “After months of discussion and planning, we are ready to advance this new program and determine how to better serve our region.”

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