URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)–Urbana Police are getting closer to rolling out a brand new program that aims to change how the city handles first responses. The open door program was proposed in August.
It would provide services to people in an active crisis and serve as a resource to the most vulnerable in town.
The major objective is not only to ease the workload off of police, but also to provide a brand new response team that will deal with cases relating to mental health issues. C-U at home said this initiative is all about building trust and relationships with each other in the community.
The initial proposal for One Door was introduced by Urbana lieutenant Joel Sanders. In the wake of national protests over police brutality, city leaders and police wanted to explore some options to reform.
“For years we’ve had police officers and mental health advocates and specialists and states attorney’s working to move this program together,” Urbana police chief Bryant Seraphin said.
The Open Door program will be based in the C-U at home headquarters. It will evaluate issues related to mental health and substance abuse, as well as establish a new crisis response team that will join police out on calls involving crisis situations.
“We want to build those relationships with those individuals so that eventually, they’re able to support themselves, have a support system built up and and have resources in place for themselves, so that they don’t have to use those services again,” C-U at Home’s Executive Director Rob Dalhaus said.
C-U at home says there’s another benefit to the community. Savings. They say with this program up and running, that means less emergency room visits and fewer people spending unnecessary time in jail.
The first phase of the open door program is slotted to begin in February of 2021. Urbana police said they will use the first months as a trial run, then once they’re on the ground running, expand it into a county wide operation.
The One Door program is estimated to Urbana up to $2.1 million dollars in the first year, just over $1 million in 2022, and around $2 million each year after that.