GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The team has been able to answer and respond to about 75% of the calls.
Officers and counselors with the program tell FOX8 they are inundated with calls, and they respond to some sort of mental health situation every day.
That can include substance abuse, people feeling suicidal or someone having a mental health crisis.
A team of six officers, six clinicians and supervisors are available from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“Something we have to remember is people don’t ask to have a mental illness, it’s something they live with, and it doesn’t make them a criminal,” said Sgt. Lennox-Spaulding.
She has answered hundreds of calls since the Greensboro Police Department launched the program in Jan. 2021.
“There is a licensed technician and an officer on-call, we are constantly monitoring all four dispatches,” she said.
Dispatchers can listen and consider the nature of the call before assigning it to the Behavioral Response Team.
“The officers are also able to get us on communications and say hey I’m handling it I think that maybe if you guys come out here, we can fund a better solution,” said Lennox-Spaulding.
Then that’s where counselors like Khristina Giordano step in.
“We are able to talk to family members on scene and gather any health resources that the individual is currently linked to,” she said.
Giordano still remembers her very first call.
“It was actually a threatening suicide, a few of us went. We were still learning how the program worked, and how everybody works but we were able to link the individual up with resources and got them to the hospital to get some help. We did follow-up after that to make sure the individual had the right resources,” Giordano said.
It’s positive outcomes like that one and the most recent situation where police responded to a man on Phillips Avenue. They say he was trying to break into homes and pointed his gun at an officer. The team was able to deescalate the situation without anyone getting seriously hurt. It makes their jobs worthwhile.
“I see what it does for GSO so far, and it’s still a young program and just the capabilities and possibilities as it grows and gets older. I’m excited and hope to see more cities do it and turn to it,” Lennox-Spaulding said
The City of Winston-Salem might be the next city to add a similar program.
Right now, city leaders are addressing new ways to respond to mental health situations.
People can expect to see the new plan roll out in late summer or early fall.
Counselors with Greensboro Behavioral Response Team tell FOX8 it’s a young program, and they are still learning.
One of the biggest takeaways is to never rush a call.
They’ve learned people with mental illnesses want to be heard, so they want to take their time to fully grasp the situation.