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The plan to better help Syracuse residents experiencing a mental health crisis

Nate Bellavia

City representatives approved a $257,000 agreement between Liberty Resources and the Syracuse Police Department would offer an around-the-clock mobile crisis response service. The agreement aims to make it easier to help people facing mental health, drug addiction, or other issues — instead of the police addressing the mental health emergency, Liberty Resources’ mobile crisis team would be able to diffuse situations before they get out of hand. Syracuse Police Captain Rich Trudell said the benefits go beyond that.

“It's not just the initial response in those successful outcomes," he said. "It is law enforcement's ability to disengage from a situation that is escalating and allowing Liberty Resources to follow up day to day after that, in order to draw a successful conclusion.“

Kortney Dale, who oversees Liberty Resources’ mobile crisis team explained how critical their role is in supporting these patients.

“We may connect with their natural supports around them to determine 'Is this person linked to the services. Do they have a therapist already? Can we link them to respite?'”

The mobile crisis team can conduct an on-site suicide assessment to determine the level of intervention needed. This funding also allows the team to take calls directly from the 911 center. Because of this, they won't have to wait for the police to arrive on scene to realize they need mental health professionals.

“That will free up law enforcement time to manage our community safety issues," Dale said. "And it will also give direct access to the mobile crisis unit, instead of law enforcement having to be that middleman.”

Both parties have worked together informally since March of last year. In 2021, only 17% of the mobile crisis team’s calls resulted in a hospitalization. Dale said this is a result of her team de-escalating situations before law enforcement has to call an ambulance.

The Syracuse Common Council on Monday unanimously approved the deal.