New funding will support crisis intervention in New Bern

NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) – Officers at one Eastern Carolina police department are getting some extra help when out in the field.

Sen. Thom Tillis recently announced $1 million in grants to North Carolina law enforcement agencies.

As part of the award, the New Bern Police Department will receive $350,000.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services – or COPS programs for crisis intervention.

The department already has crisis counselors, or “co-responders.”

“If an officer is on the scene and they need a co-responder, pretty much an officer who’s available, we’ll come by the police department and pick up the co-responder and take them out to that location,” Lt. Donald McInnis explained.

However, now with the grant, McInnis says what currently is just two crisis intervention officers – will soon become a team of them.

As McInnis details, the need for crisis intervention during calls involving behavioral health and developmental disabilities is common.

“Within the first six months, co-responders respond to about 200 calls; you have a trained behavioral health professional who can deal with that aspect of the call,” McInnis said.

New Bern police say about 88% of its calls involving a crisis counselor prevented involuntary commitments to rehabilitation facilities or arrests.

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