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Savannah Police’s Behavioral Health Unit assisted 160 people since creation

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - September will mark one year since Savannah Police brought a Behavioral Health Unit to the department.

It’s one of the first police-led units in the state. Savannah Police told WTOC their crisis intervention efforts are working and the unit has been very successful since its inception.

The Behavioral Health Unit says they’ve been able to assist about 160 people since its creation.

“We’re focusing on our opioid substance-abuse and mental illnesses. There is an abundance of resources out in the community that a lot of people don’t know about so we’re looking to get the resources out there and getting people to the resources that they need,” said Advanced Patrol Officer Julie Cavanaugh with the Behavioral Health Unit.

Advanced Patrol Officer Julie Cavanaugh says they respond to people in crisis, children that have experienced traumatic events and more. She says the team is made up of two officers and one counselor.

That’s where Rebecca Hodge comes in. She says her role allows them to work hand in hand with police and evaluate if a person needs psychiatric care.

“It allows people who need mental health help rather than jail to get that assistance that they need. It allows clinicians to get into the field with the assistance of officers and provide safety and treatment as opposed to sentencing when appropriate,” said Hodge, a license professional counselor.

SPD says there are also other officers certified in crisis intervention. The department is hoping to continue and expand the unit in the future.

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