David Brown, Lightfoot’s Pick For Chicago Police Chief, Brings Mental Health Expertise To The Job
The first time Andy Keller met David Brown, Brown was still chief of the Dallas Police Department. Keller went to headquarters to talk about his expertise: public policy as it relates to mental health.
Brown and Keller partnered on an innovative program for the department, and when Brown retired from policing in 2016 he joined the Meadows Institute working to change the way police handle mental health calls across Texas.
At the Meadows Institute, Keller said Brown helped design a program called “RIGHT Care.” It’s a model in which three-person teams consisting of one paramedic, one behavioral health specialist and one specially-trained officer are dispatched to the 911 calls that would have otherwise just been handled by patrol officers. By one estimate, about a quarter of all police shootings nationally involve a person in mental distress.
RIGHT Care, which stands for Rapid Integrated Group Healthcare Team, also places one behavioral health clinician at the 911 call center to identify mental health calls. RIGHT Care launched with a pilot program in South Central Dallas in 2018.
BJ Wagner, who heads the Caruth Police Institute, a police research group in Dallas, said since the program started that area of the city has seen a reduction in “emergency detentions” and an increase in officers available for regular patrol.
It’s not only having an impact on reducing mental health hospitalizations and having an impact on increasing community-oriented treatment options, it’s having an impact on quality of life for the people who live in this particular area of Dallas, and it’s having an impact on crime. – BJ Wagner
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