DENVER — The Denver Sheriff’s Department is creating a Crisis Response Team (CRT) to help provide mental health services for inmates.
“The Crisis Response Team is a team of mental health professionals who will be put together to support the deputies in their response to individuals with serious mental illness,” Denver Sheriff’s Department Chief of Mental Health Services Dr. Nikki Johnson said.
Johnson said the CRT will help deescalate situations and the team’s goal is to avoid use-of-force.
Johnson said Denver jails are the second largest mental health care provider in the state.
“At any given time within our Denver jail system we have approximately 64% of individuals with serious mental illness,” Johnson said. “It’s really important to us that we have a specialized response for these individuals with mental illness and really treat them with humanity.”
Johnson said the team will be made up of 11 clinicians, 7 will work at the downtown detention center and 4 will focus on the Denver County jail. There will be one supervisor for the CRT at both jails.
“This program really is in line with Sheriff Diggins’ beliefs of treating everyone with humanity. Understanding that these individuals with mental illness could be someone’s family member. They could be someone’s mother, someone’s father and it’s really important for us to ensure that we are releasing them into the community better than when they came into our custody,” Johnson said
The CRT is included in Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's budget proposal for 2022. If the funding is approved, the team will begin providing services by early next year.