Home News Aurora police unveil new space for Crisis Intervention Unit

Aurora police unveil new space for Crisis Intervention Unit

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The Aurora Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Unit began as a one-person operation out of a small office, Police Chief Keith Cross recounted Tuesday.

It now has two full-time social workers, with four investigators and one police sergeant dedicated to it. And officials are looking at adding another full-time and part-time social worker, said Janeth Barba, chief executive officer of Family Service Association of Greater Elgin, which provides the mental health workers to the unit.

“It’s a testament to a remarkable partnership,” Barba said. “Our collective approach brings together police officers and mental health professionals.”

Barba made her remarks Tuesday at the ribbon-cutting for the new Crisis Intervention Unit offices at the Aurora Police Department, which feature several rooms and a number of work areas.

Cross said the unit fielded 1,100 mental health calls in 2023 and is on pace to surpass that this year.

“We handle a variety of situations on a daily basis,” Cross said. “This is a significant step toward enhancing our ability to give … compassionate, effective support to those in need.”

Mayor Richard Irvin said the arrangement between the city, the police department and Family Service Association is “a proactive partnership” that has helped improve effective policing in Aurora.

“Our police officers are not just police officers, they are public safety officers, members of the community,” Irvin said.

Barba said it is accepted that generally, between 20% to 30% of police calls involve some kind of mental health or substance abuse-related situation. The goal is to have a police officer teamed with a social worker, although sometimes it is two police officers and one social worker.

But Barba pointed out that sometimes the calls are not classified as mental health situations right away, which is why the Crisis Intervention Unit always follows up.

Sometimes the follow-up finds that a person not only needs mental health care, but something else, such as being referred to a food pantry or a domestic shelter.

“It’s a continuum depending on the intensity,” she said.

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