The DeKalb County Police Department has set up a mental health committee to help with mentally ill residents. File

DeKalb Police creates partnership to help mentally ill residents

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond formed the Mental Health Roundtable after meeting with the mother and father of Quintas Harris, a veteran with mental illness who lost his life after an encounter with DeKalb County Police.

Under the direction of DeKalb County Assistant Police Chief Sonya Porter, who is responsible for police training, the county created a mental health roundtable committee of more than two dozen local mental health experts to discuss how to de-escalate confrontations and develop training recommendations for county police officers.

The mental health roundtable committee held its first meeting in September and will meet regularly to assess encounters and provide guidance on how to recognize and respond to residents with mental health issues. The group will also identify and provide a list of available resources such as referrals and treatment that can be given to residents.

More than one-half of the county’s sworn officers have completed crisis intervention training, instructional training involving various mental health topics. CIT training equips officers with the skills needed to safely respond to individuals with mental health needs in crisis.

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