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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Omaha Police activate mental health units


OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha Police answer hundreds of calls each year for someone dealing with mental health issues. For about a year now, those calls are answered with a mental health professional and a specially trained Omaha Police officer.

Many times, it is family members who call police to check the well-being of a loved one. 6 News spoke with one team of officers and therapists who provide comfort for families who have to make that call.

One family member called police to check on a man who has not taken his medication. A mental health co-responder also was called to the scene, and the family said it brought them some comfort.

“I am very relieved because you don’t know the state of mind that that person might be in,” Valerie said. “And with past experience with police dealing with people who had a mental issue, that being killed or injured in the process of them apprehending them.”

A licensed therapist, Shelly Pool is a mental health crisis co-responder, working in concert with Omaha Police.

“We want to decrease hospitalizations. We want to decrease incarcerations. We want to decrease any escalation in the moment that could happen that would cause that consumer to be transported somewhere for a higher level of care,” she said.

Mark Lang, one of 320 OPD officers trained in crisis intervention, said he appreciates having an expert on the team.

“Having a licensed therapist with us, a lot of time they have resources we don’t necessarily have, or they have a quicker way to get those resources to our consumers,” he said.

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