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Albany County launches new partnership to address mental health crisis calls

 A Laramie Police vehicle is parked street-side next to a board reading "Albany County Detention Center." It is a white Ford SUV with the words "Laramie Police" written on the side and back in bold, blue lettering.
City of Laramie

Albany County has recently launched a partnership between Volunteers of America and local law enforcement. It's meant to connect people calling during a mental health crisis with the right resources in the community.

The idea is if someone continually calls law enforcement while experiencing a mental health crisis - officials will pass those calls to the community crisis manager, Heather Wiseman, who was recently hired by the partnership.

“The plan is that I will be just taking phone calls and also doing the telehealth appointments through the tablets,” said Wiseman. “But we're hoping to move in the future towards me going out on some of the calls and being able to be there, with the people that are calling in.”

The goal is to reduce the number of individuals and the frequency of mental health crisis calls to law enforcement by connecting to resources in the community. This would potentially also keep callers out of courts.

“What we're looking to do, hopefully, is minimize the second, third, fourth, fifth calls for service and we're hoping to provide some wraparound services on the back end to prevent those calls,” said Brian Brown, the chief of police with the Laramie Police Department. “So initially, our officers will still handle the calls as they typically would utilizing their de-escalation skills or CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training. And when Heather's available to respond with us, we'll have her on the scene.”

If someone calls in crisis after business hours - law enforcement will use tablets to connect them with mental health providers.

The Albany County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Laramie Police Department and the University of Wyoming Police Department are all participating in the program.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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