The Columbus Police Department says increasing overdose deaths and mental health issues in the community are among its priorities heading into the new year.
Columbus Police Chief Mike Richardson said local police are receiving more calls about suspected drug overdoses and mental health crises. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if he administered it to people several times in 2018.
Naloxone is a nasal spray that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose, often sold under the brand name Narcan.
At the same time, local overdose deaths have risen to the highest levels on record. As of Thursday, Bartholomew County had 39 confirmed overdose deaths this year, according to county records.
“When I was hired[for CPD 20 years ago]I probably took someone to the hospital a few times a month because they were having a mental health crisis,” Richardson said. rice field. “[Now]we do it every day, if not every shift.”
Richardson said CPD’s plan would see more officers undergo Crisis Intervention Team Training (CIT) so officers can deal with those experiencing mental health crises.
As of November, 24 CPD officers have completed training since CPD’s Crisis Intervention Team was launched in 2021, The Republic previously reported.
“Some of the officers who received that training used it when dealing with someone who was in a mental health crisis,” Richardson said. It’s something we have to continue to focus on and deal with. Mental health calls have really increased in the last few years, but unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to go down.”
Earlier this week, the Columbus Public Works Commission approved a deal for police to hire John Bundick as a full-time pastor.
Chaplains help CPD officers with their mental health.
“He’s been counseling some of the officers who keep in touch with them,” Richardson said. “He also helps with his community-wide CIT training, etc. that we do. There are things we do to help us stay healthy.”
Centerstone plans to open a facility where CPD can help and provide information to people experiencing mental health crises, Richardson said.
“They may not be at the stage where we feel we can take them to the hospital, they may not want to go to the hospital, or the family simply needs guidance and You may be trying to get help for a loved one, so that they can get in touch with the Center Stone and get the help they need,” Richardson said. He said, “…I believe Centerstone will put that facility into operation next year.”
In addition to mental health and drug overdoses, CPD will also continue to focus on reducing property crime, arresting those who bring drugs into the community, and building trust in the community, Richardson said. .
“Every year has been a busy year for us, but luckily we have great men and women who work hard every day and have a community that supports us,” said Richard. Sung said.