The Dunwoody Police Department has entered a contract to create a co-responder program to respond to mental health calls in the area. 

At a May 23 meeting, the Dunwoody City Council approved a contract with a company called View Point Health to provide a licensed behavioral health clinician to work with the Dunwoody Police Department. The clinician will be tasked with responding to and following up on calls where a person might be struggling with a mental health issue. 

Co-responder programs pair mental health professionals with police departments in the hope that the partnerships will help better serve individuals who are experiencing mental health issues, those experiencing the effects of homelessness, cases of drug overdoses, or other issues. View Point Health is a community behavioral health center that provides treatment for mental health, substance abuse issues, and other services. The Decatur Police Department recently entered into an agreement with View Point Health, and other area departments also have co-responder programs with the company. 

During the meeting, Chief Billy Grogan said that police often respond to mental health related calls, specifically mentioning calls for drug overdoses and suicide attempts. According to a records request obtained by Reporter Newspapers, since the beginning of the year, officers for the Dunwoody Police Department have filed seven incident reports related to overdose responses. According to those incident reports, one person died. 

Grogan said that the clinician would be responsible for mental health related calls where they could assist a person in getting the services they need, but much of their work would also be rooted in following up on particular cases. 

“A lot of their work will revolve around case management and follow up,” Grogan said. “They’ll help people get the services they need so they don’t become involved in the process again.” 

According to the contract, the clinician will be in the office 40 hours a week. View Point Health will also provide a behavioral health clinician that will be available for emergency calls after hours during the week, weekends, and on holidays for no additional cost. The proposed annual amount for the clinician will be $89,922. Grogan requested American Rescue Plan 2 funds be used for the contract for the first three years. 

Councilmember Rob Price asked for feedback on the effectiveness of the program once it begins. 

“We’ve picked this particular model, let us know if it’s working,” Price said. “Let us know if we need to change it.” 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.