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Ontario County deputies using technology to help people in mental health crises

Lynette Adams
Created: September 05, 2019 08:34 PM

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (WHEC) — People in Ontario County who call 911 because they or a loved one is in trouble and needs mental health intervention can now get help with just the click of a button.

iPads are the Ontario County Sheriff's office's newest tools. The tablets are part of the comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation Program (CPEP).

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It started last year in Ontario County by pairing deputies with mental health professionals on emergency calls that involved a person experiencing a mental health crisis.

This year, thanks to a pilot program and state dollars, CPEP has taken a leap forward. When clinicians aren't available to accompany deputies, they're still accessible via iPad.

“It’s a win for the community, but also those who are in crisis but not enough crisis that they have to go to a facility and tie up their resources as well," said Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson.

Sheriff Henderson loves the program. He estimates deputies are answering 30% more calls where a mental health crisis is an issue. 

The old system gave deputies two choices in these scenarios, leave the scene if no crime had been committed or arrest the person.

"And they would be transported to this facility and sometimes they would be released before we finished the paperwork," said Sheriff Henderson.

Sergeant Mark Taylor, who runs the program for the Sheriff's Office, says deputies are trained to handle these calls, but now they're not alone in deciding what to do.

“We’re not the mental health professionals," said Sgt. Taylor. "Ideally we want someone who is in crisis to be treated and seen by a mental health professional. This allows that to happen."

Right now only four agencies are testing the iPads in the pilot program through the state senate and the Office of Mental Health. Wayne County will also be coming on board in the coming weeks.


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