Police, mental health professionals meet in roundtable

Representatives from the Cottonwood Police and Sedona Police Departments, Camp Verde Marshal's Office and Yavapai County Sheriff's Office met July 8 with representatives from the Verde Valley Guidance Clinic and Mingus Center to discuss the potential impact of decreased funding available for the mentally ill.

Representatives from the agencies came together to discuss what, if any, impact the decrease in funding would have on each organization in terms of critical services provided.

"By having open dialogue and addressing potential issues ahead of time, it allows us the opportunity to provide our citizens and clients with the highest level of service possible, which is what they deserve," said Cottonwood Police Chief Jody Fanning.

The roundtable discussions focused around the types of services each agency could provide in light of budget cuts. It was determined that many of the core services will remain the same, although there may be occasion when some services are limited. It is still difficult to put an exact number on the amount of people these cuts will affect, since there are a numerous factors, which may determine service eligibility. These factors include the initial evaluation and assessment, household income, medical coverage and the types of medications prescribed, among other things.

"Each agency may be in different places in terms of budget and services, but by our meeting and discussion today, it is clear we are all committed to helping each other work through such issues," said Fanning.

Training opportunities were also discussed which would further enable first responders with added skills needed to intervene in crisis situations when they encounter the mentally ill or emotionally disturbed persons. The Cottonwood Police Department recently hosted Crisis Intervention Training, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to address such issues.

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