The partnership for mental health support is between ChristianaCare and the Wilmington Police Department.

Wilm. Council approves $363K for mental health services on cop responses

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Police & Fire

The partnership for mental health support is between ChristianaCare and the Wilmington Police Department.

The partnership for mental health support is between ChristianaCare and the Wilmington Police Department.

The Wilmington City Council approved a resolution Thursday night that pairs mental health clinicians with police officers to respond to calls for service to support individuals experiencing a crisis. 

Resolution 0413, sponsored by Councilwoman Yolanda McCoy, District 6, authorizes the Wilmington Police Department’s grant application to the Delaware Criminal Justice Council in the amount of $363,000. 

The funds will be used to support the police department’s Partners in Care Co-responder Program.

The program is a collaborative effort with ChristianaCare, which will supply two mental health professionals and a community health liaison to work alongside police officers.

Funding will support the continuation of the city’s contract with ChristianaCare Health Systems, as well as training for program staff, the purchase of equipment, and other expenses related to this program. 

“I do want the public and my colleagues here to understand how we are in front of this,” said Councilwoman Maria Cabrera, At-Large. “The benefits of having a mental health specialist, having someone there for certain police calls… I believe we will see a difference in the outcomes of those interactions between police and community members, which has also been a concern across the country with some of the behaviors we have seen.”

Councilman Chris Johnson, District 7, said this is one of the moments in which he’s honored and privileged to serve on council. 

“This is actually emotional for me because we have worked with, me, Councilmember McCoy, Councilmember Oliver, went up to Newark, New Jersey years ago and talked about CPS,” Johnson said. “I talked about all this and to finally see this in action, really makes it worth it.”

He said regardless of the negative press the council sometimes gets, it is doing a lot to move the city of Wilmington forward, and prioritizing and understanding the importance of mental health is crucial.

Cabrera said this resolution shows how Wilmington is more progressive than many other cities. 

“This is a council working together to solve large problems,” Johnson said. “This is one of my proudest moments on council.”

Councilwoman Zanthia Oliver, District 3, gave kudos to ChristianaCare for being open to the partnership. 

“You know, it’s an addiction, it’s a mental problem that people just don’t like to discuss, but it’s relevant,” she said, “so I’m just glad.” 

Several other council members said they were proud to be able to invest in this mental health service.

“We have a lot of people who are really having issues, and this program is going to be essential to be a little bit more proactive about those types of things,” McCoy said. 

On the Wilmington Police Department’s website, Chief Wilfredo Campos stated that on a daily basis, his police officers encounter individuals suffering from mental and behavioral health challenges who require assistance beyond the scope of a traditional law enforcement response.

“Our new Partners in Care Program will help connect individuals in need with resources that are better tailored to address their needs,” he said.

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