DPD Receives $200,000 Grant For Officer That Helps in Mental Health Crisis Situations

DULUTH, Minn.-Today the Duluth City Council is considering the acceptance of a two-year $200,000 grant which will continue the position of a Duluth Police Officer who follows up with people experiencing a mental health crisis.

This police officer is part of the DPD’s mental health unit (MHU) located in the DTA substation in downtown Duluth. The MHU is a diversion program which has two Duluth Police Officers and two embedded social workers, one from St. Louis County and one from the Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment.

The first grant was awarded in February, 2018. Between March 2018 and December 2019, the DPD Mental Health unit has responded to 278 referrals. Of those, 34 cases remain open with people whom the unit has regular contact.

“The goal is to connect with people before their crisis becomes even more life changing” said embedded social worker, Patty Whelan. “What we’re seeing is trusting relationships forming between us and the individuals we work with. Those same people who used to run from police or hide behind their locked doors are now coming to us to talk through an issue and get help.”

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