In a groundbreaking move, the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office has become the first law enforcement agency in New York State to provide iPads for all Road Patrol Deputies, granting access to remote mental health services for individuals in crisis. This innovative program is a result of a collaborative effort between the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office, Cayuga County Mental Health, Liberty Resources, the NYS Office of Mental Health, and the Institute for Police, Mental Health & Community Collaboration.
Starting today, when a Cayuga County Deputy responds to a mental health crisis, they may use the iPad to facilitate a secure video conference with a licensed clinician, depending on the situation. This allows mental health professionals from Cayuga County Mental Health or Liberty Services to evaluate patients remotely. The program aims to provide essential resources to those experiencing a mental health crisis while significantly reducing law enforcement transports to hospitals.
Initially available in Cayuga County between 8:00 am and midnight, there are plans to expand the service to 24 hours a day in the future. Additional benefits of this approach include cost savings for patients who avoid hospital visits, freeing up deputies and emergency room staff and resources for other needs, and providing more positive interactions with law enforcement. Remote evaluations also offer the comfort and privacy of patients’ own homes. Follow-up appointments are generated after the initial contact.
While this type of mental health service may not be suitable for everyone, the Cayuga County Mobile Crisis Team and transportation to hospitals remain available options. Cayuga County Sheriff Brian Schenck expressed gratitude to community partners and commended Undersheriff Peenstra for leading this project.
Don Kamin, the Director of the Institute for Police, Mental Health & Community Collaboration, praised the initiative, highlighting the exceptional collaboration between the involved organizations. Lauren Walsh, Cayuga County Director of Community Services, also expressed excitement about the potential benefits of this collaboration, noting the importance of mental health resource access in their rural community.
As the demand for mental health services continues to grow, Cayuga County’s innovative approach may serve as a model for other law enforcement agencies looking to better support their communities.
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