OCSO’s Crisis Intervention Team Follow Up Check Turns Into Lifesaving Moment
(OCSO, May 21, 2023)
Pontiac, MI – A Pontiac man in the throes of a drug overdose is likely alive today because a specialized unit from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office showed up at his residence – unannounced – to check on him.
Two deputies from the recently formed Crisis Response Unit went to an address in Pontiac about 10 a.m. Friday to follow up on a young man with a substance use and mental health disorder.
While at the residence, the deputies found the unresponsive man at the bottom of a stairway, his eyes were open but rolling back in his head. The deputies, who have Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) and other advanced training as part of their participation in the unit, administered three doses of Narcan to counteract the opioids the man had taken, which caused him to regain consciousness and become more alert.
It was the first time that unit members had encountered a person actively overdosing during one of their unscheduled follow-up visits.
“We continue to evolve and adapt to changing circumstances,” Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. “This proactive crisis intervention team is another step forward for us as an agency and a community. As my grandma used to say, ‘The proof is in the pudding.’ I know in this case, the proof from this new effort is a saved life.”
The man agreed to go to the hospital for treatment and was told of the resources available to him. Deputies followed the ambulance to the hospital.
The Crisis Response Unit, staffed by a sergeant and two deputies, began operating in December of 2022 and is funded by a $1.4 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Rather than make an arrest or search for evidence, unit members are focused on connecting substance abuse users or those with mental health problems to resources available through hospitals or such resources as the Oakland Community Health Network.
Unit members do not wear typical police uniforms and are dressed more casually to not intimidate the people they are trying to assist.
Captain Todd Hill, who oversees the program, said he is hopeful communities will see the value of the program and make it multi-jurisdictional. There is no shortage of work.
In April, there were 408 calls for service flagged, with 60 of them being for substance abuse and the balance for people with mental health needs. Of that, the unit had 26 contacts with people impacted by substance abuse. Fifteen of them agreed to accept assistance.
Family members of those impacted are also eligible for services.
In Friday’s case involving the Pontiac man, a family member had asked for a welfare check on him because she had not heard from him for an extended time and was worried. Had the two deputies not shown up when they did, the outcome would have been far different.
Learn more about Oakland County Sheriff’s Office at https://www.oakgov.com/government/sheriff.