FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA) – The Fort Smith Police Department is set to launch a new mental health unit.
The unit will staff two officers that will be trained in crisis intervention. Eventually, four officers will head the unit.
The training will prepare them to properly handle people experiencing a mental health episode.
Public information officer for the department, Aric Mitchell said since the police are usually first to respond to these situations, it’s important for them to have the knowledge.
He also said it’s a good way to make sure people get the help they need.
“Jail is not a good place for those people,” Mitchell said. “A lot of times if you give them the follow up that they need and make sure they get the right resources, you can get them on another path.”
Mitchell also said he hopes the unit shows families dealing with these issues there are resources available to help them.
“Sometimes people can get down on themselves when they’re going through a mental health crisis,” Mitchell said. “They don’t feel like they’re getting all the help they need. And that can lead to pretty tragic results. We just want people to see that there’s hope out there.”
The unit is set to launch Tuesday, March 10 at the Fort Smith Police station.