Successful telehealth program used by PCSO expands throughout the Black Hills

(Scarlett Lisjak)
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 6:19 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office was the first in the state to receive a new program, giving deputies another resource to assist them, 24 hour access to a mental health professional.

Patrol Lieutenant for the Pennington County Sheriffs Office, Chris Hislip says the Virtual Crisis Care Program unites Sheriff office’s with mental health professionals through an ipad, “once the situation is de-escalates, we can match them to a mental health professional immediately and it really allows us to address the situation but allows them to stay in their home.”

Hislip adds that when police encounter a person with mental health issues, having that professional handy to consult with is a more effective way of handling the circumstance, especially in rural areas.

“Many times the community does not have access to a mental health professional right away, so then the only option for law enforcement officers is to place that person on involuntary hold, put them back in the police car and transport them to a hospital that can be traumatizing in of itself,” Hislip said.

It is also cost effective, “if we were to place that person on involuntary hold it could cost that person $3,000 dollars or more per occurrence so that adds additional stress to someone,” Hislip said.

Because of the program’s success in Pennington County it is now expanding to 24 other counties in South Dakota.

“We’ve used it 22 times and out of those 22 times, 21 of those times the person was able to safely remain at home with a safety plan after consulting with the mental health professional and they provided follow up and case management services,” Hislip said.

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