BINGHAMTON, NY – The City of Binghamton will be allocating a portion of its budget next year to help police officers continue to receive training in mental health crisis response.
Mayor Rich David announced the city will budget $50,000 towards supporting the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier in 2021.
The money comes primarily from Community Development Block Grant funding, as well as the city’s general budget.
The BPD and M-HAST have had an official partnership since 2017, and most recently were a part of the One Mind Campaign, in which officers took part in additional mental health training.
Michael Hatch is the Director of Crisis Services at MHAST and helps run the training for police officers.
He says the training covers topics such as mental health diagnosis, de-escalation techniques, as well as informing those officers about the mental health services available around the community.
Hatch, formerly of the Johnson City Police Department, says he’s thankful to be able to teach others about the options out there that he was unaware when he was an officer.
“As a retired police officer, I can tell you that I had no clue what community-based organizations are right here in our own backyard in Broome County until after I retired. I’ve spent the last several years saying, my God I wish I would have known that service existed while I was on the job. So, to have that, and to be able to provide that to the officers, is a key piece,” says Hatch.
Mayor David says he’s proud of the BPDbeing proactive in their approach to mental health over the years, and has seen improvement.
He stated that in 2016, a person was transported for hospital care in 70% of police-related calls involving mental health.
However, last year, that percentage dropped drastically to 32%.