Council Approves Funding to Expand Mobile Crisis Response Capacity

On July 21 the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a special appropriation of $592,202 for the County’s Department of Health and Human Services’ budget. The money will be used to expand the mobile crisis response services.

The appropriation, spearheaded by Council Vice President Tom Hucker, aims to increase the number of mental health professionals responding to mental health or substance abuse-related calls. Hucker said that he believes that having more mental health professionals will reduce police-involved shootings, such as the shootings of Emmanuel Okutuga, Robert White, and Finan Berhe.

“A significant percentage of service calls are related to mental health or substance abuse. However, the County’s Mobile Crisis Team does not currently have the capacity to cover many of those calls leaving police officers, who are not mental health professionals, to respond,” said Hucker.

Councilmember Evan Glass spoke about the importance of having more licensed social workers. “As we as a community begin a public conversation about how we rethink and restructure our police department, we must ensure that the solutions include greater investment in mental health and social workers,” said Glass.

The money from this appropriation would include funding six licensed clinical behavioral health staff according to the Council staff report.

Councilmember Nancy Navarro supports increasing the County’s response to mental health needs and requested a review of the data from 911 and 311 calls for a more complete picture of what is needed, according to a press release.

“This special appropriation is a step in the right direction; it is the first of what I hope will be many more actions taken to reshape our response to mental health needs in Montgomery County,” said Navarro.

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