HARRISON TWP., Ohio (WDTN) — The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office is working to better respond to mental health calls with its Crisis Intervention Team, which is now half a year old.
Sheriff Rob Streck says people experiencing mental health crises can be responsible for more than 100 calls to 911 a day. Case managers work with deputies to alleviate the strain on resources and get people the help they need.
William Chattman, a case manager with Eastway Behavioral Health rides along with deputies to help respond to calls.
“We exchange. It’s a partnership. It’s teamwork,” says Chattman.
He’s one of two case managers with Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office CIT. The program started in July and is funded by grants through ADAMHS.
“This program was very important for me to do,” Chattman says of his decision to get involved.
“Every other time for the past 20 years, it’s been ‘OK– warning, warning, arrest, down to jail.’ So that was pretty much the cycle,” states Sheriff Streck.
The CIT program and case managers are helping break the antiquated cycle, realizing the solution isn’t always jail.
“It allows them to find actual services to help the individual and the family,” details the sheriff.
While the CIT program is young, Chattman brings with him 30 years experience. But it’s not a 9-5 job, and there’s no typical day. From to drugs, to homelessness, to suicidal calls, he sees it all.
“We try to be compassionate and sympathetic and empathetic in what we do,” says Chattman.
For Chattman, rewards outweigh the challenges.
“He was actively psychotic at the time, but was hearing what the deputy and I were saying to him and was agreeable to having us call out the medics and voluntarily go to the hospital,” Chattman describes an incident where he was able to make progress with a man on drugs.
Just as much as Chattman is there to help the caller, he’s there to help deputies as well.
“It really feels good to be doing something positive,” says Chattman.
The sheriff says the biggest challenge of the CIT program is getting additional resources to be able to respond to more people.