RTD hires three clinicians to assist customers experiencing mental health issues
RTD’s Transit Police Department discovered years earlier than most agencies, that there are certain situations that you cannot “arrest” your way out of. That’s why the agency has hired three new mental health clinicians. They join Danielle Jones, a certified psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner with the Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD), who started last spring.
Anita Hoffman, LeAnne Figueroa and Mary Kent are also contracted through the MHCD and are assigned solely to RTD. This joint effort with MHCD provides support to customers who may not have access to, or knowledge of, available mental health services.
The clinicians will make contact with individuals who are exhibiting mental health issues within the city and county of Denver.
“On a typical day, they’ll ride with either our transit police officers or a Denver police officer who works secondary employment for RTD, and will respond to situations involving individuals who affect rail or bus operations,” said Steven Martingano, RTD’s deputy police chief. "They also will proactively contact people at our facilities.”
It all “starts with building a relationship with an individual to assess what assistance is needed, and help the client access those services,” said Chris Richardson, associate director of MHCD Criminal Justice Services.
RTD started the program as a pilot in September 2018 and, due to its success, initiated a contract in June 2019.
The clinicians will also help RTD employees who might need assistance. Additionally, they will develop training for Customer Care staff members and others to teach proper ways to deal with individuals who might be experiencing a mental health episode.
Those who are suffering from mental health episodes may need assistance to get treatment or proper outreach, and this partnership with MHCD has allowed experts in the field to best meet the needs of the individual through a clinical lens.
"The initial contact by a clinician can determine if an individual needs immediate psychological attention, medical help, medication, referral to a mental health organization or any other resolution instead of going directly to incarceration,” said Martingano.