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Boise Police Department adding more staff to assist with mental health calls

“We don’t meet people on their best day, we meet people on their worst days a lot of times," said Mental Health Coordinator Craig Laudicina.

BOISE, Idaho — Mental health has been a big topic of discussion during this pandemic, but it's also something the Boise Police Department encounters in many of their calls. Which is why the department created the Behavioral Health Response Team six years ago. Now, that team is growing. 

“We don’t meet people on their best day, we meet people on their worst days a lot of times and having someone there to address that mental health component can be huge,” said Mental Health Coordinator Craig Laudicina. “I think the highest call for service we get here at the department is mental health-related calls or at least have that component.” 

Laudicina is the newest civilian member of the team. He told KTVB, services like this are especially important because they're working to prevent calls from going to 911, and instead helping those facing a mental health crisis and connecting them with needed social services. 

“When you're in crisis, it feels like the most awful thing that's happened to you and knowing that there are people in the community that really do want to help and offer you these services or even just sit there and talk to you for a minute that exists, not only in our department but a lot of our community partners,” Laudicina said. 

The team is made up of two behavioral health officers and two mental health coordinators. Not only do they respond to mental health-related calls, they also develop training and policy for officers and coordinate with community partners. That training is known as the crisis intervention training, which all Boise police officers receive. It includes verbal de-escalation and how to recognize signs of mental illness.

“Boise is innovative and it's an amazing city and we have this opportunity to incorporate clinicians into crisis response and to alleviate some of the issues we see in our community,” Laudicina said.

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