Licensed clinicians to respond to some mental health calls in Orlando

OPD partners with Aspire Health to create Community Response Teams for trial

The Orlando Police Department has created two community response teams that include mental health officers who can respond to certain crisis calls.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Two Community Response Teams will soon be on staff at the Orlando Police Department. Each team is made up of one licensed clinician and one case manager.

The Orlando Police Department said the department responds to an average of 50 calls a day for emergencies dealing with mental health. With Community Response Teams onboard, some non-violent calls to 911 will dispatch mental health professionals.

“We are meeting the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. The ones that can’t help themselves. The ones that are in crisis mentally and emotionally, and they’re asking for us to send them help. Help doesn’t necessarily mean to send the police all the time, but sending someone that can help with their situation,” communications supervisor Latashia Stephens said.

OPD is partnering with Aspire Health to create Community Response Teams that will provide mental health evaluations and resources on the spot.

“As a profession, we are looking for alternatives so that our officers don’t have to be on the front line dealing with mental health situations. Clinicians and licensed professionals have the expertise to diffuse and help individuals in crisis,” OPD Chief Orlando Rolon said.

When CRTs are dispatched, a licensed clinician and case manager will respond in a marked vehicle.

“After the assessment, my role is to provide them with community resources, make their appointments, connect them and do a follow-up to make sure they can get there and that they’re getting the help they need,” case manager Gina Ingrassia said.

OPD officers are not involved in CRT calls, but the CRTs will have police radios on hand so they can call an officer to the scene if they need further assistance. OPD will be collecting data and information to determine if the program is successful.

“It will give us the opportunity to look at how the incarcerations have gone down, uses of force will reduce because the police will not be going to these types of calls,” community relations division commander Lovetta Quinn-Henry said.

Community Response Teams are expected to complete their training and start their calls for service by the end of February. The pilot program will end Dec. 31.

The City of Orlando is covering the cost for the pilot program, which comes out to about $40,000 a month.

About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.