Emotionally Disturbed Persons Response Team Trained to Help Those in Crisis

Linnay Harmer, from Cortland Prevention Resources, speaks to participants in the EDPRT School held in March 2016.
Linnay Harmer, from Cortland Prevention Resources, speaks to participants in the EDPRT School held in March 2016.

The Emotionally Disturbed Persons Response Team (EDPRT) consists of a group of law enforcement officers who have been specially trained, on a voluntary basis, to interact with emotionally disturbed individuals in a variety of situations in our community. These situations may include suicidal persons and persons exhibiting irrational behavior, such as psychiatric patients, people with developmental disabilities, homeless individuals, veterans, juveniles and elderly people and any other situations and/or referrals that deal specifically with the needs of the mental health community and emotionally disturbed persons.

The EDPRT is about community involvement, empowerment, and partnerships.  One of the team’s main focuses is on diverting individuals toward community-based treatment as an alternative to incarceration.

Team members respond to those in crisis and assist emotionally disturbed and mentally ill individuals in a variety of situations. Team members are specially trained to assess each situation and conduct a mental health intervention for individuals who need emergency care. For those individuals in a non-crisis situation, the team tries to provide the necessary resources and referrals to an appropriate mental health provider or other community agency.

The EDPRT Training School is held each year and includes officers and representatives from regional police departments, county probation, and the SUNY Cortland public safety program. The school is 40 hours of intense mental health-related training provided by numerous mental health experts from the Cortland community. A variety of mental health and law enforcement topics are covered and the training includes detailed role-play scenarios, as well as intense personal interaction with numerous mental health consumers.

The EDPRT credits its success to the fact that it has helped bridge the gap between law enforcement and the mental health agencies throughout the community.  The open communication, partnerships, and working relationships developed between the law enforcement agencies, local hospitals, human service agencies and their staff, and consumers has undoubtedly made the EDPRT successful in all that it has done and continues to do.

That success is also displayed through each EDPRT member’s belief in treating individuals they encounter with dignity, compassion, and respect. The team is truly an asset for our community.