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The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Pueblo Police receives a behavioral health services grant

Photo+by+Madison+Lira.+Pueblo+Municipal+Building+where+Pueblo+PD+is+located.+
Photo by Madison Lira. Pueblo Municipal Building where Pueblo PD is located.

By Madison Lira

The Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) rewarded the Pueblo Police Department with a grant for the Peace Officers Behavioral Health Support Funds. According to Pueblo PD, the grant total is $99,464, which goes towards behavioral health services to both peace officers and community response services. The Pueblo PD has confirmed that this is the largest award for the Peace Officers Behavioral Health Support Funds they have ever received. The previous awards towards the program were $11,440 in 2019 and $13,760 for 2020 and 2021. 

Pueblo PD currently has 23 sworn and civilian members that are a part of their peer support team, according to KRDO-13. The department will need to hire five more members to keep up with the growing departmental need for these services. The peer support team for Pueblo PD can provide professional counseling services to officers involved in critical incidents such as shootings. Pueblo PD does collaborate with licensed mental health professionals and other community organizations to help provide these services to officers. To become a member of the support team, people will need to complete a 40-hour course and will continue ongoing training past that. 

According to the Colorado DOLA, the Peace Officers Behavioral Health Support is offered to local law enforcement agencies, peace officer organizations, and public safety agencies. The program provides various behavioral health services for peace officers and their families. The expenses eligible for the grants are counseling services, mental health wellness checks, peer support programs such as professional training, and many other program expenses. Those offered these grants are those part of the Colorado State PD, corrections or local PD, as well as campus PD and Colorado’s Division of Parks and Wildlife. Colorado recently this past year voted to enact $3 million from the state’s general funds towards the program to expand support services.

With this, however, a co-response program is implemented within the Pueblo PD that does help when the police have to respond to mental health calls. According to the Pueblo Chieftain, the program has successfully partnered with Health Solutions and Pueblo PD, especially since most officers are willing to ride with a clinician when responding to a mental health call. The Chieftan reported that five clinicians are assigned to help 200 officers and two active case managers to provide back-end follow-ups. 

The city of Pueblo did, in 2021, award the co-response program some funding that was from the American Rescue Plan. A specific grant was not listed, but it seems like a step in the right direction to provide more clinicians to ride out with officers to respond to those mental health checks that regular PD need to gain the training or skills to help. Pueblo is in the minority of the state to have any co-response unit, as more than half the state has no co-responder program to help with mental health checks, mainly in the rural and mountain areas of the state. 

 

Pueblo’s Chief of Police, Chris Noeller, did comment on local news stations about the almost $100,000 grant to the POBHSF. “This grant is important for our department and our officers. It will go a long way toward our ability to provide mental health wellness for our personnel who are exposed to trauma on a daily basis.”

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