May 8, 2024 - News

Cuyahoga County Eastern suburbs to collaborate on crisis response

A suburban police chief standing at a lectern in front of a Shaker Heights Fire Dept truck, with seated dignitaries by his side

Former Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams is now the chief in Richmond Heights. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Four eastern Cuyahoga County suburbs are joining a crisis response pilot launched in Shaker Heights in 2022 that sends licensed mental health professionals alongside first responders on selected service calls.

Why it matters: The program expansion, which is expected to begin this summer and will be funded for two years, is a foretaste of enhanced regional collaboration among smaller communities that are often cash-strapped and unable to deliver specialized health and human services.

Catch up quick: Last year in Shaker, social workers responded to 645 calls that included welfare checks, family disputes and suicides in progress, as well as to calls not initially thought to involve people in crisis.

State of play: The expanded program, dubbed First CALL (Crisis Assistance and Local Linkage), will hire four additional mental health professionals to be based in Shaker and embedded with first responders across Cleveland Heights, University Heights, Richmond Heights and South Euclid.

By the numbers: More than $500,000 of the roughly $1.2 million in funding comes from the local Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board, with additional dollars from a U.S. Department of Justice grant, the George Gund Foundation, Cuyahoga County and the five communities.

  • Additional dollars are courtesy of a U.S. Department of Justice grant, the George Gund Foundation, Cuyahoga County and the five communities.

What they're saying: "First responders for years have been tasked with jobs they're often not trained or equipped to do," Richmond Heights police chief (and former Cleveland police chief) Calvin Williams said at a press conference Tuesday.

  • "But an officer with 40 hours of [Crisis Intervention Team] training is no match for a licensed professional who's been doing this work all their lives."

What's next: At a press conference Tuesday, county executive Chris Ronayne said he hopes this model continues to expand over the next several years.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Cleveland.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Cleveland stories

No stories could be found

Clevelandpostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Cleveland.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more