BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Mayor Rich David, Police Chief Joseph Zikuski and Director of Crisis Services at MHAST. Michael Hatch from the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier (MHAST) held a press conference to outline the Binghamton Police Department’s programs and training to improve interactions between police and individuals experiencing a mental health crises.
Earlier this year, the Binghamton Police Department became one of five law enforcement agencies in New York State to complete a pledge to improve interactions with individuals affected by mental illness.
This pledge known as the “One Mind Campaign” was carried out by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. It requires participating law enforcement agencies to implement practices to improve police response to mental health calls.
In order to fulfill this pledge, the department had to meet its requirements. They are:
- Establishing a clearly defined and sustainable relationship with at least one community mental health organization.
- Developing and implementing a written policy addressing law enforcement response to persons affected by mental illness.
- Demonstrating that 100 percent of sworn officers are trained and certified in Mental Health First Aid or an equivalent mental health awareness course.
- Demonstrating that 20 percent of sworn officers are trained and certified in Crisis Intervention Team Training.
Since 2016, Binghamton Police have been working with MHAST on mental health training and programs.
These programs were aimed at reducing hospital emergency department transports, arrests and use of force.
“We provide the mobile crisis service for them, and if a person is in crisis they have the ability to contact the mobile crisis team and a licensed clinician will come right to them and we also connect them with peer support specialists who have lived experience with mental health and or substance abuse.”said Hatch.
In 2016 an individual was transported for hospital care in 70 percent of BPD’s mental health calls, by 2019 that number reduced to 32 percent,
“The Binghamton Police Department has been proactive in cultivating relationships with mental health and social service agencies, encouraging alternatives to arrest or hospitalization that will achieve better outcomes for those in need.” said Cheif Joseph Zikuski. “It’s part of our efforts to be a forward-thinking 21st century police agency and a statewide leader in mental health training and response.”
Mayor Rich David has committed $50,000 of the 2021 City of Binghamton Budget to further support MHAST programs in crisis intervention.
That funding will expand the hours of the crisis team to expand their impact on the community.