Specialized team responds to mental health emergencies in Newport News

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Posted at 5:36 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 17:56:35-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, one in four people with a serious mental illness has been arrested by police at some point in their life. One team in Newport News is hoping to change that, by intervening before the cuffs come out.

The team is called CARE, and they have responded to over 400 calls since the initiative began in July 2021.

"When you look around your house and you have services that need to be done you want to make sure you contact the individuals that specialize in those services," said Coordinator Lt. Andre Dorsey. "The CARE unit, they specialize in mental health."

The team, which includes a paramedic and mental health professional, responds to nonviolent situations where someone may be having a mental health crisis. Dorsey said they're currently responding to calls seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"We want to make sure that the city continues to show the citizens that we do care about them and care about what's going on," Dorsey said.

Dorsey told News 3 the program has been so successful that they're looking to expand, by adding more personnel and extending the hours they respond.