The Williamson Co. Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the agency to provide a mental health responder on calls.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office is adding a new resource to better respond to mental health calls.

The Sheriff’s Office has partnered with the Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System to provide mental health co-responders.

“Law enforcement is usually the first response, but there’s only so much we can do when we’re on the scene and we’re cooperating with Volunteer Behavioral Health and allowing them to send a designated person to Williamson County. Deputies until the situation is calm,” said Williamson County Sheriff Dusty Rhodes.

Rudd says 75% of people in prison have some form of mental health problem. He said they are not criminals and need help.

The sheriff’s office says they receive three to four mental health calls a week.

“The Natchez Trace Bridge, they’re doing work on it right now, but we’ve had a lot of people jump off the bridge and we’re in the county and the cities,” Rhodes said. “There are people who think about suicide every day, and these people need mental health help. That’s why we’re using the program.”

When deputies respond to mental health calls, they’re no longer alone. New mental health co-respondent Alex McNicol will have IV. After the representatives confirm the position, it will be entered.

“Mental health is a big book to read and these people have been trained in mental health for many years,” he said. “The average police can take 40 to 80 hours.”

“My main job is to evaluate. Is there a mental health crisis? Are we dealing with it and how to deal with it better? ” McNichol said.

McNicol cares for someone in need.

“So what we’re doing is hopefully sending a message in the community that calling law enforcement about mental health doesn’t mean you’re going to go to jail,” McNichol said. “It means someone like me will come out to meet you and find another option.”

Experts say this is a service Williamson County needs.

“Not all mental health is a crime. It could be someone having a PTSD moment or someone with schizophrenia because their medication is off or their medication is high,” McNichol said. “My job is to figure out how best to help them.”

“The benefit is No. 1, hopefully they don’t end up in jail. We’re getting these people the help they need, so they can have productive lives,” Rhodes said.

The sheriff’s office said what hours they receive mental health calls will be the hours the associate responder works.

When that person is not available, representatives with the Crisis Intervention Team respond.

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