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Lackawanna police and counselors team up

Newswatch 16's Courtney Harrison spoke with officials about how the program works and what it means for the city.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Outside of the Scranton Police Headquarters, city officials and members of the Scranton Counseling Center announced a new Crisis Co-Responder Team Program.  

It pairs counselors who have a background in mental health and Scranton Police officers in the field, helping residents who are in crisis.

"I think it's a really, really big deal that we're able to partner so quickly with Scranton Counseling Center, and we're so fortunate to have Scranton Counseling Center right here in the city," said Paige Cognetti, Mayor of Scranton.

"A lot of times, when we hit the end of our abilities, we have to refer someone to a higher level of care and treatment. A subject matter expert may be at the hospital. This is allowing us to bring that subject matter expert to the site," added Chief Thomas Carroll, Scranton Police Department.

"They're really sensitive and how they respond to the individual, how they work with them to just assess what kind of brought on the crisis, and ultimately helping to kind of bring the person down to where they feel like they're at a comfortable state of functioning where they could talk through kind of the resources that they need," said Sarah Wodder, Scranton Counseling Center.

The program went into effect on August 9, and it is already producing positive results by working together.

"Of the last eight mental health calls, five of them we've been assisted by Scranton Counseling Center, and they've been influential in taking the crisis moment in the right direction and able to free up law enforcement so that we can focus on public safety," Chief Carroll said.

The city also has nearly $1 million in federal grant money to distribute for wellness programs. 

If you're interested in applying, click here.

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