SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Springfield Police Department seems to have found success with an innovative approach to helping people going through a mental health crisis.

A co-responder program is expanding that allows Burrell Behavioral Health mental health professionals to assist officers on calls.

“In February, we had 53 calls for service,” said Holli Triboulet with Burrell.

Triboulet explained that this program helps officers with de-escalating techniques and resource navigation.

“The officers are more comfortable calling us out as they’re able to see what we are able to help them with, as they’re able to see that we can shorten the amount of time that they are working on those types of calls, and return them back to law enforcement activities,” said Triboulet.

She said the system, that kicked off in September, is especially helping people who are not initially interested in speaking with an officer.

Mental health professionals are able to form a relationship and follow up with people in the days to come.

“We’re able to spend that time with individuals and kind of walk them through what those options are,” she said.

Moving forward, the hope is to expand the program to make it a resource that is available 24/7.

“What we would like to see are dedicated co-responder and then CIT officer teams that are staffed each shift,” Triboulet said. “They can specifically be dispatched to these particular calls, the check the well-being calls.”

SPD Chief Paul Williams has previously said the department is working on this program because the need is there.