Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan unveiled a bipartisan plan on January 31 that promotes collaboration between local law enforcement agencies and certified behavioral health specialists through the establishment of a statewide co-responder model.
With overwhelming bipartisan support, the “Georgia Behavioral Health and Peace Officer Co-Responder Act” will allow for the implementation of a co-responder model that combines the knowledge of law enforcement and mental health professionals to de-escalate behavioral health emergencies.
“Facilitating working partnerships between mental health experts and first responders provides a tailored response to de-escalating emergencies," said Lt. Governor Duncan. "This measure takes a proactive approach to expand mental health resources by not only establishing an emergency response partnership, but by creating a model that includes a follow-up system with individuals and identifies those currently incarcerated that may be treated more effectively in a behavioral health facility."
Sen. Ben Watson (R – Savannah) will carry the measure and brings a wealth of professional knowledge to the table as Chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and over three decades of physician experience.
“The importance of mental health care services cannot be understated, as the increase in behavioral health emergencies carries a significant weight on law enforcement agencies around the state," said Sen. Watson. "I applaud Lt. Governor Duncan for identifying the critical need to expand the scope of emergency response efforts and look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to establish the first-ever statewide co-responder model."
To view Senate Bill 403, visit: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61506.