Delaware County leaders discuss plans for mobile crisis units

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said law enforcement leaders are excited for the opportunity to come up with a strategy to address a problem that affects all of their communities.

“When the congresswoman asked if there were any projects we’d like to see funded, that was the number one priority,” Stollsteimer said.

He added that since his election in 2019, several police chiefs have been asking what the county can do to provide more mental health support to its citizens.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsetimer said a mental health project was a “number one priority.” (Kenny Cooper/WHY)

“We law enforcement come into contact with people every day who need mental health services – not the kind they’re going to get in jail, but the kind they can actually get to improve them. , so we don’t. have to get them stuck in our criminal justice system,” Stollsteimer said.

As elsewhere in the country, mental health incidents in Delco are also on the rise. According to data from the County Department of Emergency Services, there were approximately 2,900 incidents in 2020 and that number increased to approximately 3,200 in 2021.

Once established, the mobile crisis teams would be stationed at Delco’s emergency services headquarters. After arriving on the scene with officers, this project would divert people to treatment, “with priority admission”.

According to Haverford Township Police Chief John Viola, it would also serve another purpose – to ease the burden on law enforcement officers who are not equipped to handle such situations.

Haverford Township Police Chief John Viola said the availability of mental health experts would free up officers to do other necessary work. (Kenny Cooper/WHY)

“When an officer arrives on the scene and a person is in crisis, sometimes a uniform makes it worse, just because people are scared or whatever. So bringing in experts to help us frees us up to do other work, but takes us away from this situation, which really, really calms things down,” Viola said.

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