The Community Response Team (CRT) includes a mental health professional from Family & Children’s Services’ COPES unit, a police officer and a firefighter or paramedic. The group works together to rapidly diagnosis and de-escalate dispatch calls.
[The Frontier] The man had mental health problems and would often stand on a street corner in midtown Tulsa. When he had mentally unstable behavior, paramedics would take him to an emergency room.
But that was rarely the place he needed to go. Most of the time, he needed a mental health facility. And when he ended up at a hospital, law enforcement would have to make calls to paramedics. Then an officer would have to be staffed to transport the man to a facility.
It became a pattern.
The man is the type of person who gave rise to the city’s Community Response Team — or CRT — a mobile mental health co-responder unit that responds to people who have emergent mental health needs.
CRT is part of an emerging shift in Tulsa to free up law enforcement and emergency services, connect people to the proper resources and change the way mental health calls are handled.
The team complements CARES, a collaborative program that aims to reduce the number of calls made by “super users,” people who call 911 more than 15 times per year for mostly nonemergency situations.
The CRT program has been in a pilot stage since January, taking place once per week. But on July 31, the program began running at four days.
The uptick in CRT shifts is an effort to gather data to see how well the program is working and how much it costs, said Capt. Shellie Seiber, mental health coordinator for the Tulsa Police Department.
“We’re trying to look at time on task, resources that are saved with the unit, and is the quality better for the person,” Seiber said.