York, Pa., police study 'Memphis model' for mental-illness calls

As part of a four-part series on mental-health issues, the York (Pa.) Daily Record reports on how York County police representatives traveled to Memphis in April to study how the Memphis Police Department handles mentally ill people in crisis. The April visit was just a two-day overview; the York departments lack funding for the full 40-hour training program.

The Daily Record story holds up the Memphis Police Crisis Intervention Team as a successful model that York police want to emulate. Furthermore, the article says that Tennessee laws give police more options to deal with the mentally ill, and that Memphis has more treatment options and facilities than York.

The article provides a bit of background on the Memphis police approach to responding to crises involving mentally ill people:

The Memphis Model started in the late 1980s after public outcry over the police shooting of a mentally ill man who was cutting himself with a knife.

The idea was to be able to train officers to handle the crisis as it's occurring rather than waiting for mental health professionals to arrive.

Officers learn how to calm the person, call relatives to help or summon a mobile crisis unit so counselors can make an assessment at the scene, said Maj. Tim Canady, coordinator for the team.

In Memphis, police also can drive someone to the Crisis Assessment Center, where medical professionals can determine whether the person can be involuntarily committed.

Police can go back to work within 15 to 30 minutes, said Dr. Randolph Dupont, who also helped to develop the Crisis Intervention Team.

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