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County proposes funding to maintain mental health crisis response teams

Fairfax County police cruiser with lights on (via FCPD/Facebook)

Fairfax County plans to make its co-responder model pairing police with mental health crisis specialists for certain 911 calls permanent.

The county began developing the program last year with a micropilot that was extended with $4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The proposed fiscal year 2023 budget includes more than $2.1 million to retain 17 behavioral health specialists and nine police positions approved in January as part of the fiscal year 2022 mid-year review.

“On average, there’s around 25 mental health type of calls that come into the 911 center every day, and we know a percentage of those 25 calls really don’t need primary police response,” Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board executive director Daryl Washington told FFXnow. “This co-responder model is making sure that you’re sending the right resource to the individuals in the community.”

The county reported last year that the program helped divert 40% of calls from ending in arrest or hospitalization.

While many calls do require medical or police services, ones involving a mental health crisis don’t necessarily need a police officer responding, Washington said.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold public hearings on the proposed budget April 12-14 and is slated to vote on it in May. The county’s fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30 of the following calendar year.

Photo via FCPD/Facebook

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