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Wilmington launches a new program to address community mental health concerns

Delaware Public Media

The Wilmington Police Department Partners In Care program aims to bring mental health services directly to the community.

The pilot program is similar to the New Castle County Behavioral Health Unit.

Police officers and trained mental health clinicians from ChristianaCare will be paired together and respond to calls related to mental health and substance abuse.

The goal is to better address an individual’s needs and develop treatment plans.

“On top of responding to these calls for service they can also self-dispatch these calls and make proactive contact with residents they’ve encountered while on patrol. So if it’s a slow day, we don’t have a large volume of calls, they can also go out and do outreach and work with individuals [dealing with] substance abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness,” said Wilmington Police chief Wilfredo Campos.

The co-responder teams are supported by a Community Health Liaison, who will provide case management and conduct follow-ups.

The teams work in two shifts from 6am to 10pm Monday through Friday.

Campos says those hours were chosen based on recommendations from departments with similar programs.

“We found out that the calls for service for mental health were usually during the week during the early morning hours when people are going to work, they have a lot of stress,” said Campos. “Monday mornings are the number one time for heart attacks for whatever reason that may be, but it’s also one of our biggest days when people are having some type of crisis.”

Campos adds those hours are subject to change as more data is collected during the pilot phase of the program.

The Partners In Care program will use a system called REDCap to track and compile data. It is also used by the New Castle County Behavioral Health Unit.

RedCAP can track incidents, locations, individuals, types of calls, referrals made, and more. It can then compile those data points into regular reports to help inform any needed changes to the program.

The Partners In Care program is funded through December 31st. It is seeking additional funding through Wilmington City Council to continue through 2025.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, and graduated from the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021.