Now when you call 9-1-1 in Westchester there is a fourth option of mental health crisis to go along with police, fire and EMS.  The 911-caller diversion system, through which 911 dispatchers identify and refer individuals to the Crisis Network Team, staffed by St. Vincent’s Hospital crisis personnel, has gone live bringing to life a core element of Westchester County Executive George Latimer’s “Reimagining Policing - Project Alliance” initiative for individuals in behavioral health crisis. 

Latimer said: “Project Alliance, our mental health crisis response program, is a necessary and important undertaking, to ensure we best serve people who are in crisis in our county. While we announce today one piece that will serve a major role in properly meeting the needs of people in crisis, I know that for our communities in Westchester the end result will be greater than simply the sum of these parts. But this is a tremendous step toward making Project Alliance a reality, and I am deeply appreciative of the partnerships across this county that are making it happen.”

The Crisis Network staff will provide supportive services, as well as de-escalation and connection to services and systems that will help address the root cause of the crisis. With Westchester’s Mobile Crisis Response Teams in the process of coming on line, the Crisis Network staff can direct the deployment of mobile crisis responders when needed.

DCMH Commissioner Michael Orth said: “This is a significant success in County Executive Latimer’s Project Alliance Initiative.  From our colleagues at the County’s Departments of Public Safety and Emergency Services to all the community and law enforcement partners that are making this work, the commitment to this collaboration has been nothing short of extraordinary. We are well on our way to having a seamless system of crisis intervention and diversion here in Westchester.”

Department of Emergency Services Commissioner Richard Wishnie said: “Working with my colleagues over the last few months on helping to develop a plan to aid people in crisis has been extraordinary.  This initiative directed by County Executive Latimer is a product of his desire to respond to concerns about a real need to make a difference in the delivery of emergency services.  Providing the appropriate level of resources for response to a behavioral health emergency will definitely save lives here in Westchester County.”   

Public Safety Commissioner Thomas A. Gleason said: “The Westchester County Police Department is committed to working collaboratively with the Crisis Network Team to ensure the most effective response to persons who are in crisis.  This invaluable new resource is another tool that can be used to bring these challenging incidents to a safe and successful conclusion for all involved. All of our Communications Unit members who handle 911 emergency calls have received the updated training associated with this launching this initiative.”

In the first phase of the rollout, the team will accept 911 callers diverted from the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, Department of Emergency Services, Port Chester Police Department and the Village of Mamaroneck Police Department. Ultimately, when fully operationalized, 911 diversion is anticipated to be a first-instance option for every law enforcement agency in the county.

In preparation for this, Westchester County, utilizing a grant obtained by People USA, Inc., has trained one hundred sixty-three 911 dispatchers, call takers and desk officers across the county. The trainings are presented by county staff, led by DCMH Program Director Mark Giuliano, and co-facilitated by Retired Police Lieutenant Mike Hatch, formerly with the MHA of the Southern Tier.