Dunwoody and Doraville’s police departments are partnering on a new co-responder program that provides officers with much-needed expertise and support when responding to calls involving a mental health crisis.
In a joint statement, Dunwoody and Doraville announced that they have signed a contract with the DeKalb Community Service Board to share the services of a licensed behavioral health clinician.
“This program gives our officers access to an expert to help recognize and de-escalate situations while also providing important resources,” Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan said. “We look forward to this important partnership with Doraville Police.”
The new clinician, Gregory Lazzara, began in this new role in late April. He has a master’s degree in community counseling from Concordia University Chicago and has worked for the past 10 years in various roles in crisis management, crisis intervention, and de-escalation.
“Our partnership with Dunwoody Police enables us to provide a greater level of service and support to our community,” Doraville Police Chief Chuck Atkinson said. “We’re pleased to welcome Mr. Lazzara and look forward to learning from him and his experiences.”
Under the new contract, the DeKalb CSB will contribute $33,400 toward the cost in the first year and $16,600 in the second year. Dunwoody’s cost for the first year is $81,020, which represents 83 percent of the total cost, while the City of Doraville’s cost for the first year is $16,653,, which represents 17 percent of the total cost. The cost was divided based on population.
According to the statement, the Dunwoody Police Department began a similar program in 2022 through a contract with View Point Health, which struggled to maintain staffing for the position. The Dunwoody City Council approved American Rescue Plan funding to pay for the program.