Mental health police co-response team set up
By Lisa Brody
Bloomfield Township trustees unanimously approved the adoption of a mental health co-response team inter-local agreement between the Bloomfield Township, Birmingham and Auburn Hills police departments and the Oakland County Community Health Network at their meeting on Monday, April 26.
Bloomfield Township Police Chief Phil Langmeyer said he was “very excited to be here to tell to you about this. For the last year we have been working on this initiative.”
He explained that four out of 10 people in the state of Michigan suffer from some kind of mental health issue, and between the three departments, about 10 percent of all calls are for someone needing mental health care. “Mental health care is a huge problem in the state of Michigan and the United States… We deal with about 3,000 calls a year for mental health or substance abuse issues.”
He said the situation they face in Bloomfield Township is that many calls they take may have a mental health component, and an increasing issue they see is seniors in the community without a support structure or suffering from dementia. Other issues they are experiencing with a mental health component, Langmeyer said, are domestic violence/assault issues, suspicious persons, drub abuse and addiction, calls involving juvenile behavior issues.
“It's difficult to track all the calls for service with a mental health component,” he said. “Between all three of the departments, we get about one call a day with mental health issues. But I don't think that's anywhere near accurate.”
Law enforcement is not really equipped, he noted, to handle mental health issues.
Surprisingly, Langmeyer said, they're handling the majority of the calls in the middle of the week – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – between 2 and 10 p.m. “The reality is we go back and help some residents over and over again,” he noted.
The mental health co-response program will partner with Oakland County Community Health Network with a dedicated full-time social worker embedded who is more familiar with resources to help residents in the three communities. The individual will be assigned exclusively to the three communities on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays form 2 to 10 p.m. when they are busiest, and provide followup.
Langmeyer said the program is to be funded through federal and local grants, including some which they have applied for through Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills) office, and expect to hear back on this fall, for funding in fiscal year 2022. Start up costs are $45,000 per agency, and then are anticipated to be $34,000 a year plus wages.
“At this point we're not asking for any budgeted money,” he said.
“How and when will this be evaluated?” treasurer Brian Kepes asked, and Langmeyer said it would be with Oakland County Community Health Network, which hopes to replicate it statewide.
“It clearly is timely, and we appreciate that you and your officers are stepping up,” Kepes said.
“The breadth of this program is so huge because it's not just internal,” noted supervisor Dani Walsh.