We have been working with St. Louis County Social Services over the last year to improve our response to those in mental crisis. Since 2007 our mental illness related calls have risen by more that 35%. Two of our three homicides last year involved those with serious mental illness and an officer involved shooting involved a subject in crisis threatening with a knife. Too often we are seeing individuals in suddenly acute mental crisis slip through the cracks and police are left dealing with them as the after hours social workers. Unfortunately, a result of the lack of resources in this area, mentally ill are often cited or arrested and are brought to the county jail. With proper treatment and care, these individuals would not be spending time in jail. As I've said before, our jails are our mental hospitals of the past.
St. Louis County board members will be considering a proposal next week to fund an embedded social worker to operate in the Duluth police department. This position will review mental illness related police calls and ensure everything is being done quickly and efficiently to help those in crisis. They will work hand in hand with our staff to swiftly address those in need of care for their illness.
I believe this effort will help us reduce incarceration rates of those suffering from mental illness, reduce the amount of court resources involved in mental illness, reduce police time spent on mental illness related calls and help those who are in crisis.
We will continue our efforts related to mental health court, outreach and community intervention group and are excited about the prospects of having an embedded social worker.
Here is story on this effort by channel 21. http://www.fox21online.com/news/local-news/duluth-police-to-add-social-worker-to-force/31347794