Ill. PD receives nearly $295K in funding for expansion of mental health crisis intervention unit
The grant, awarded by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services, will go toward funding contracted social workers and training members within the unit
By Megan Jones
AURORA, Ill. — The Aurora Police Department received a federal grant to help its crisis intervention unit respond to mental health and crisis calls, and provide resources for residents.
The $294,657 grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services and will go toward funding contracted social workers and training members within the unit.
The police department’s crisis intervention unit was formed in 2020 and currently consists of two social workers and two specially trained investigators who co-respond to mental health calls or crises together, Investigator David Guevara said.
Generally, calls involve suicidal or homicidal people, he said.
Last summer, a suicidal teenager was at an Aurora train station and was threatening to use a knife, but officers and social workers from the unit were able to talk to him for over an hour and connect him to mental health resources. No one was injured in the incident.
The unit aims to quickly de-escalate the situation, assess the individual in crisis and connect them to services needed to keep them out of the criminal justice system, Guevara said.
Police have responded to exactly 1,000 mental health reports from January to Nov. 30, according to police data, an increase from 965 mental health reports the department received in 2021.
“It gives them more of an immediate access to a mental health professional and the ability to speak with someone who can connect them to resources a lot quicker because the process normally can take a while,” Guevara said.
The Community-Oriented Policing Services Office, founded in 1994, is part of the U.S. Department of Justice and is responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation’s state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources, officials said.