Nashville police, mental health experts respond to calls together in new pilot program

Posted at 4:25 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 19:35:08-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A co-response pilot program will pair Metro Nashville Police officers with mental health experts trained to de-escalate situations.

Next month, Metro Police will begin testing out the program in their North and Hermitage precincts.

Mental Health Cooperative will provide six trained clinicians who will ride along with officers.

"We really want officers to be well trained and able to recognize signs of mental illness and work collaboratively with mental health experts on how to de-escalate the situation and get people treatment," said Amanda Bracht with Mental Health Cooperative.

Bracht says this program will allow specialists and officers to really know the community and follow up with people who have reached out for help. It is also a resource for family members, who often are the ones forced to call police.

"The clinicians and officers will respond to calls we know have mental health component or ride along with calls that might not originally present as a mental health issue but anticipate clinician will be able to pick up on some issues and provide additional assistance to officers," Bracht said.

This comes in the wake of at least three Nashville police shootings this year involving people facing a mental health crisis.

Just last week, police responded to an active shooter call made by a 22-year-old man in South Nashville. He shot an officer before turning the gun on himself. His parents said their son struggled with mental health issues.

"The main thing we want to get across to people struggling with mental health is that there is help out there," said Bracht.

Police will collect data on the program with the goal of bringing the program to all their precincts.

If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis call 855-CRISIS-1.