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Kalamazoo-area police want closer ties with mental-health experts. Now they try to make that happen.

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Courtesy: Joel Bissell, MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette
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MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette
Lindsey O’Neil, program supervisor for Integrated Services of Kalamazoo talks with Portage Public Safety Officer Lacey Fisher inside Fisher’s patrol vehicle in Portage, Michigan on Thursday June 2, 2022. ISK and Portage Public Safety have joined forces for an innovative program where they regularly meet to discuss people Portage police have encountered who ISK can follow up with for mental-health support services.

This story is part of the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative's Mental Wellness Project

In Kalamazoo County -- as in across the country -- police calls frequently involve individuals in the throes of a behavioral-health crisis.

In 2021, Kalamazoo County’s 911 central dispatch received almost 19,000 calls in which a behavioral-health issue was flagged, county officials estimate. That’s an average of 51 calls a day.

County police agencies have been working for years to improve their response to such calls, particularly in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests two years ago. Now there's an effort to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement agencies in Kalamazoo County and the mental health system.

Find the story from MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette

This story is part of the Mental Wellness Project, a solutions-oriented journalism initiative covering mental health issues in southwest Michigan, created by the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative. SWMJC is a group of 12 regional organizations dedicated to strengthening local journalism. For more info visit swmichjournalism.com.