A metro police department is getting additional help to deal with serious situations.
“We meet the consumer wherever they are at, whether that is in the street or in their home,” said Desiree Bell who is the co-responder with the Edmond Police Department and care specialist with NorthCare.
The Edmond Police Department and NorthCare OKC have been working on this partnership for years.
“Here I am the first one to respond to the scene and even in the police department to be able to have those follow up calls and linking services,” she said.
Bell not only rides with officers to mental health calls but links them to resources on site and follows up after the call.
“Being able to link those services to people and see that they are utilizing them and that it is helping them and keeping them integrated into society that is a wonderful feeling to know that I am able to help with that,” said Bell.
According to the latest data from the DOJ, 44% of people in locally run jails have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Bell hopes her position will help people before they are incarcerated.
“It’s really important for the community because some people aren’t aware of what services are available, what resources are out there. So, it is great for me to be able to provide that information to them and then help follow up with them,” she said.
Bell said every call is different, at times she can handle the situation right away and other times she follows them to the hospital if needed.
“I am very happy to be here with the support of the department and my NorthCare team. Everyone is very supportive and helpful,” said Bell.
She started with the department a month ago and said she has already responded to dozens of situations.
Right now, she is the only co-responder but said they will re-evaluate in a few months and hopefully hire more.