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Mobile Crisis Team Will be Available 24/7

Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler announced plans to significantly expand the County’s emergency mental health system by funding overnight hours for the Mobile Crisis Team that responds to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, including those addicted to opioids.

The Baltimore County Crisis Response System, a collaborative effort between the County’s Health and Police Departments, works with The Affiliated Sante’ Group, Inc. to provide emergency mental health services to Baltimore County residents. The Mobile Crisis Team is currently available from 9:30 a.m. until 1 a.m. daily. The increased funding of $561,000, contingent on County Council approval, will bring the Mobile Crisis Team budget to $2.6 million and will help expand their services to 24 hours per day.

“Our Mobile Crisis Team provides a vital service to people in their most vulnerable moments; by pairing a mental health clinician with a police officer, they are able to respond in a way that deescalates situations, protecting both the individual and overall public safety,” Mohler said. “If approved by the Council, we will ensure that County residents who need these services throughout the night will now have access to them.”

“The increase in funding will mean an expansion in service hours, and having these services available around the clock is priceless,” said Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch.

The Mobile Crisis Team responds to severe behavioral health emergencies in the community, with the goals of diverting residents from unnecessary hospitalizations and/or entry into the criminal justice system, and reducing the number of emergency petitions. The team provided 2,343 interventions to County residents and their families in fiscal year 2018.

“This funding will allow constant coverage throughout the County to provide a resource to patrol officers dealing with those suffering from mental health issues,” said Chief of Police Terrence Sheridan. “Hopefully, this will continue our trend of peacefully resolving incidents involving individuals in crisis.”

“The Mobile Crisis Team has been a tremendous asset to the community and I support the expansion of their availability into the overnight hours, when many incidents take place,” said County Council Chair Julian Jones.

“Mental health crises don’t start in the morning and end at night,” concluded Mohler. “We have to take care of those in need.”

Facilitating Access to Mental Health Care

Another strength of the Mobile Crisis Team is that they help people take full advantage of the dynamic matrix of services in place to link County residents to preventative care options.

For more information on mental health services offered in Baltimore County, call the Baltimore County Department of Health at 410-887-3828. To access emergency mental health services, call the 24-hour Mobile Crisis Team hotline at 410-931-2214.   


Drug Drop Boxes are Conveniently Located in all Baltimore County Police Precincts

You know how important it is to read the label on your prescription medication and to take it only as directed. But are you also aware of how important it is to properly dispose of medications that you are no longer using? Unused prescription drugs can find their way into the wrong hands – with dangerous and oftentimes tragic consequences.

To help bring attention to this crucial public safety and public health issue, the Baltimore County Department of Health is promoting the national Prescription Drug Take Back Day (Saturday, April 28, 2018) and are reminding county residents that there are Drug Drop Box Locations in police precincts throughout Baltimore County. While the national observance will occur on April 28, Baltimore residents are able to place their expired and unused prescriptions in drug drop boxes throughout the county year round - 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs – the majority of which were obtained directly from family and friends or by having access to the home medicine cabinets of family and friends. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a safe, convenient and responsible way to clean out your medicine cabinets and dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs and perhaps help prevent drug addiction and potential overdose deaths.

In addition to taking your unused medications to a drug drop box location, you may also dispose of them at home if no specific disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug labeling. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Remove the medicine from its original container and mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or used kitty litter.
  2. Place the mixture in a sealable bag or container to prevent medicine from leaking out.
  3. Place the sealed bag or container in with your household trash.

Don’t forget to scratch out all identifying information on the prescription drug container to make it unreadable. This will help to protect your identity and maintain the privacy of your personal health information. 

By Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D. 
Director of Health and Human Services


Releases Report by Council of State Governments Justice Center

An independent review of the County’s police responses to people with behavioral health needs found that the County has a strong foundation in place with its Baltimore County Crisis Response System (BCCRS), and its programs and services. The assessment, conducted by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center at the request of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, offers recommendations intended to further improve the County’s practices.

In late 2016, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz asked the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center to conduct an independent assessment of its law enforcement and behavioral health collaboration, the Baltimore County Crisis Response System (BCCRS), which helps the County respond to people who have behavioral health needs. In partnership with the Baltimore County Police Department (BCPD), the Baltimore County Department of Health, and the Affiliated Santé Group—a non-profit behavioral health crisis service provider—the CSG Justice Center reviewed the BCCRS for its effectiveness, comprehensiveness, and adherence to national best practices.

Report Hails Cultural Competence Training

The assessment report outlines positive steps the County has taken toward providing additional training focused on improving the cultural competence of law enforcement officers, and states that the number of hours BCPD spends on these trainings exceeds other jurisdictions with which the CSG Justice Center has worked:

Additional trainings related to implicit bias and cultural competency for all new BCPD recruits on topics such as bias incident, FBI civil rights, and diversity

“Fair Practices” training for new lieutenants and front-line supervisors (i.e., corporals) that focuses on the opportunities, challenges, and values of ensuring diversity in a public safety agency, including its impact on employee morale and the agency’s relationship with the community

“Blue Courage” curriculum training for all sworn BCPD employees (from recruit to the executive level), which explores the importance of respect in policing and public safety

Steps Taken to Better Respond to Individuals with Behavioral Health Needs

The report identifies significant steps County officials have taken to improve BCCRS and BCPD responses to people who have behavioral health needs. These efforts include:

A three-year strategic plan for providing comprehensive mental health and de-escalation training to staff at all levels

An action plan developed by the police department to improve data collection and analysis for BCCRS data and performance indicators

Additional specialized training opportunities provided to officers and clinicians on the Mobile Crisis Team, such as crisis intervention and mental health/first aid training

Crisis Intervention Team training opportunities for 911 dispatchers and other critical first responders in the County

Recommendations for Continuous Improvement

Kamenetz has directed the County’s police chief and health and human services director to respond to the report’s recommendations within 90 days.

“Our police department and health officials remain committed to improving police responses to those with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders,” said Kamenetz. “This assessment is critical in strengthening our effectiveness, comprehensiveness, and adherence to national best practices.”


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017