Created: April 01, 2021 06:25 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Person in Crisis (PIC) team in the City of Rochester is now responding with police to all calls involving mental illness. The demand for its services is so great, the team is being expanded from 16 mental health professionals to 30.
“We're leaving one scene and going directly to another scene, there's not a whole lot of downtime,” said Alia Henton-Williams, the leader of the PIC team, “We've been seeing a great deal of calls around suicide, our team has gone out on calls where people were at bridges or people were in their homes threatening to take their lives.”
While the PIC team has been responding to certain mental health calls on its own since the end of January, it recently started co-responding with Rochester Police on calls that might require both a police officer for safety reasons and a mental health expert.
“The PIC team is also available now for RPD to request,” explained Dr. Daniele Lyman-Torres, the City of Rochester’s Commissioner of Recreation and Human Services. Those requests from RPD, she says, are rapidly increasing, “we're currently working with RPD on what can be done until the PIC team arrives and what kinds of responses can use to deescalate situations while they wait for those resources.”
The City is currently in the process of adding 14 members to the PIC team, they’re hoping to be up to full staff in the next 30 days.
“What we really see is being able to add multiple teams to each shift so we can continue our work that we're doing right now but also add other services,” Dr. Lyman-Torres explained.
Eventually, the PIC team would like to be able to respond with or in place of the Police to calls for welfare checks, family issues and eviction services.
Monroe County also has FIT (Forensic Intervention Team) that essentially offers the same services as PIC. In the City, PIC will be called first and if a member is not available, RPD can call in FIT.
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