MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Murfreesboro Police Department is making mental health a priority.
On Friday, the department announced a new hire, the first mental health co-responder, that will help respond to 911 calls.
MPD has partnered with Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System in adding the department's first mental health co-responder. Heather Noulis is a full-time employee VBHCS but is assigned to work with Crisis Intervention Team officers at MPD. Her office is at MPD headquarters. pic.twitter.com/FEHykglKfI— Murfreesboro TN Police Department (@MboroPoliceDept) February 11, 2022
"We are always rapidly evolving as law enforcement and learning from past experiences about how to have better and positive interactions and the only way to do that is to continue to progress is our training, field training officer Quinten Peeler said.
After completing training Heather Noulis will be the first mental health co-responder with the Murfreesboro Police Department.
Noulis works full-time with Volunteer Behavioral Health Murfreesboro but will work with MPD's Crisis Intervention Team.
Her expertise is a welcomed asset to the team.
"She has these skills that she can just better put in place for us and just help guide us along on our calls and show us proper routes when we're on those calls for service," Peeler said.
MPD said adding more mental health resources is a demand they heard from the community and one they think will help keep more people safe.
"It's something that we're seeing multiple police departments in Tennessee do and I fully expect in the next couple years it's going to be something that's very common in law enforcement and that's going to be a norm," Peeler said.
Last month, a deadly police shooting in Nashville left many people wondering why de-escalation tactics with a mental health expert are not the standard.
"We've started to look back on law enforcement and say how can we fix these negative encounters that we've had. And the way that police departments have come up is why don't we put somebody with us that has vastly more training and experience in this that can ride with us and assist us," Peeler said.
Noulis's addition is just one way the department is hoping to improve. More than 60 officers have completed a 40-hour crisis intervention training. A number the department said is only going to go up.