Springfield, Mo. ~ Springfield Police Department and Burrell Behavioral Health Receive Grant for Mental Health Co-Responder Program Expansion

The Springfield Police Department, in collaboration with Burrell Behavioral Health, has been awarded a grant of $797,798 from the Missouri Department of Public Safety State Crisis Intervention Program. This grant will be used to expand the agencies' mental health co-responder program.

Currently, there are three full-time co-responders and one part-time co-responder employed by Burrell working with the program. With the grant funding, the program will be able to hire an additional three full-time co-responders, two part-time co-responders, and one full-time administrative support specialist. The funds will also cover limited training and equipment purchases.

The expansion of the program will provide coverage on days and times that are currently not staffed for an immediate response or are being covered on an on-call basis. This will allow for a more comprehensive and timely response to individuals in need of mental health services.

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According to Chief of Police Paul Williams, the co-responder program has already shown its effectiveness. "We're connecting people in need of mental health services to those services and we're reducing the need for police response, which frees up officers to respond to other calls for service," he stated.

Burrell Southwest Region President Clay Goddard also expressed his enthusiasm for the expansion. "By adding more staff to the co-responder program, it gives us the bandwidth to serve more people in the community and get treatment to those who need it," he said.

The mental health co-responder program was launched in September 2022 as a partnership between SPD and Burrell. It pairs trained mental health and substance abuse counselors with SPD officers to respond to non-law-enforcement crises or issues. The goal is to identify individuals in need and connect them with appropriate services outside of law enforcement involvement.

Since its inception, the program has seen success in its mission. There are now individuals being served solely by the mental health co-responders when it is safe to do so without law enforcement present.

The grant funding will not only allow for the expansion of the program but also support its ongoing efforts to provide timely and effective care to those in need. The Springfield Police Department and Burrell Behavioral Health are committed to working together to improve the well-being of their community members.

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