HARTS responds to over one hundred calls since July
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A call for a mental health crisis can be difficult for first responders to navigate. That's why Albemarle County developed HARTS, Human Services Alternative Response Team.
“Yes, I like to call this my soft uniform, so it’s not a typical police uniform. From what I’ve seen so far people have said that they do like the idea and they felt that they were able to open up and talk easier,” said Brian Miller, an officer with ACPD who has been designated as the responding officer for HARTS.
The team has been busy since their start in July.
“We’ve responded to since late July, 146 people. So the need is there,” said Stephen Hitchcock, HARTS Program Director.
Miller says he isn’t surprised by that high number.
“I know these are the calls that we’ve been responding to as law enforcement for years and years,” he said.
Responding in an unmarked car and their “soft uniform,” they’re hoping to help people get the long-term help they need.
“In the process, respond to someone in a more humane and human kind of way. Really focus on someone’s well being not just the resolution of a situation,” said Kaki Dimock, Chief of Human Services for Albemarle County.
Miller shares that this is working for them.
“Some people have said, ‘I just can’t believe there are people out there like you guys that care,’ So like I said they’re just used to an officer come and leave and no follow-up or anything,” he says.
According to HARTS representatives, mental health specialists follow up with the patient and truly make sure they get the resources they need.
As of now, the program operates from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday but they hope to be 24/7 in the near future.