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Boise Police behavioral health response team helps alleviate welfare calls

Posted at 6:04 PM, Jan 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 08:17:29-05

BOISE — The City of Boise crime rates is at a 25 year low. Boise Police say it's in part due to proactive work, community outreach, and partnerships with neighborhoods and schools. Recently, even more, the emphasis has been put on mental health. The department says welfare checks are their highest call for service. In 2019, Boise police paired a mental health coordinator and a sworn in behavioral health officer for these types of calls.

Deputy Chief Ron Winegar says the pair works to help people get connected to mental health services they need and create follow up plans to reduce repeated calls.

"Our goal is to before they get to a point where they're in a crisis and need to be placed on a mental hold and may be taken involuntarily to a mental hospital, it's much more effective to get them connected to the services they need before they hit that crisis point," said Deputy Chief Ron Winegar, Boise Police Department.

According to the Boise Police, the behavioral health response team responds to about ten calls per day for service. That's in addition to follows ups.

"They've fallen off the radar, and there's not really anybody to help them, and so they tend to spiral out of control, and their life has just become a mess, and it's in disarray, and so obviously those folks are not the typical people that we want to out and catch committing crimes. That's not our purpose with folks who are suffering from those issues," said Winegar.

Winegar says it's a step in the right direction, but there's a long way to go.

"I don't think there's anybody who doesn't either have somebody in their family that has a mental illness or knows somebody that's a close friend that suffers from it and we have to reduce the stigma of treatment from mental illness. We have to look at it just like if I break my leg, I'm not hesitant to go to the doctor and go to the professional who could help and get that taken care of get the assistance they need. We have to get the same mindset toward mental illness in our community."

Winegar says they hope to add another team in the future. To see the full 2019 Citizens Report, click here.