Metro to expand police department's mental health pilot program

Posted at 6:10 AM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 07:10:17-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's a topic that's landed further in the spotlight — especially after the police shooting death of a man on Interstate 65: how police respond to people who may be in a mental health crisis.

Now Nashville is expanding a program that's meant to help police officers with just that.

The announcement of the expansion of the so-called "Partners in Care" program came during a meeting of stakeholders late last week.

"We realize that Partners in Care enjoys a level of popularity that we did not anticipate, it's the right resource at the right time," said Dia Cirillo, with the mayor's office, at the meeting.

Questions still remain about why a mental health expert was not able to be at the scene of I-65 last month. Officers shot and killed Landon Eastep after about a half-hour of talking with him when police say Eastep quickly pulled a metal object from his pocket that turned out not to be a gun.

His wife had previously reported that Eastep saw delusions.

This isn't the only time in the past year police have responded to situations with people likely experiencing psychosis.

Right now, the mayor's office says the Partners in Care pilot program is only staffed mornings and afternoons on weekdays in the Hermitage and North police precincts, though they say help is available in other precincts and on the weekends if needed.

"We are working on new services in the central precinct to start before the new fiscal year, and additional resources elsewhere in the county," Cirillo said.

As part of the expansion, the mayor's office says they hope to train 550 police officers in crisis intervention over the next three years.