Law enforcement crisis team hits milestone

Multi-agency program marks 5,000th referral from mental-health related calls

Police car/lights

WAUKEGAN – Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg and six partner agencies announced the multi-agency Crisis Outreach and Support Team hit a major milestone.

In October, COaST marked the 5,000th referral to the program stemming from law enforcement mental health-related calls for service. The program started in 2018.

The team initially began with only the sheriff’s office but became a multi-agency team in January 2022. The team consists of members from the Gurnee Police Department, Lake Forest Police Department, Libertyville Police Department, Lincolnshire Police Department, Mundelein Police Department, Vernon Hills Police Department, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the Independence Center, Living Room Wellness Center. A police officer from one of the local agencies and a sheriff’s deputy from the sheriff’s office partner with a social worker, clinician or peer specialist to respond to mental health-related calls.

COaST has responded to dozens of mental health calls. This has allowed trained professionals to deploy at the scene, spend as much time as necessary with the person in crisis and allow the deputies/police officers to return to emergency calls.

Since the program’s inception, COaST has offered services to more than 3,700 people or 74% of those referred.

A strategic goal set by COaST membership is to grow the program beyond the seven partner agencies, ensuring all demographics are represented countywide. Recently, Idleburg collaborated with county administration leadership to reallocate a vacant sheriff’s office position into a mobile crisis responder position to continue growing the team.

“Over the last five years, we have drastically changed the way we respond to mental health crisis calls and the results we have seen from this collaboration are nothing short of incredible and inspiring,” Idleburg said in a news release. “This team is making a tremendously positive impact on the community. We are grateful for the alliance with our law enforcement partner agencies, the Living Room Wellness Center and MacArthur Foundation.”

COaST is supported in part by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge.

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network

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