How Duluth Police Handle Mental Health Crises

Baihly Warfield
Updated: September 12, 2018 06:14 PM

Police often see people at their worst. Whether it's a scene of someone who has been injured or someone going through a mental health crisis, those situations require specific training.

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Response to mental health issues has become more of a focus for many departments, including Duluth. Around 30 percent of DPD officers have gone through crisis intervention training, Officer Chad Guenther said. 

This afternoon, Guenther and Officer Angela Robertson sat down with folks from SOAR and members of the public to talk about how crisis intervention and other training applies to their day-to-day work. 

Guenther, who is on the Mental Health Team, said before there was specialized training, they would arrest the same people over and over again. 

"It was a revolving door," Guenther said. "So we've tried to establish a way that we can meet the needs of those that are experiencing mental illness, who might also be suffering from chemical addictions, by finding an alternative way to get them help without bringing them to jail."

There are social workers embedded within the police department, for example. Robertson said responses are getting to be more specific. 

"You've got to take a step back, look at what's going on and look at that person as an individual instead of the umbrella. Like how we handle a vehicle theft or a burglary or something like that, we have this umbrella," Roberston explained. "Now, we have this tool bag that's filled with a variety of different things, and it can be more person-centered."

She said the goal is to have all Duluth patrol officers trained in crisis intervention in the future. 

Wednesday's discussion was put on by the Transition Coalition, a group that helps people move from prison back into the community. Their goal is to reduce recidivism. 


Baihly Warfield

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