Geneseo cops put mental health awareness at top of policing list

Claudia Loucks
For the Republic

The Geneseo Police Department now has a mental health task force.

GPD's Integrated Model Police And Crisis Team (IMPACT) is designed to put a focus on community issues relating to mental health, substance use and crisis intervention.

Detective Jamie Shoemaker

Detective Jamie Shoemaker initially began work to set up a mental health task force within the police department. It was while she was working in the community and as a result of her training with crisis intervention that she realized more than just help for mental illness was needed.

“During trainings it was brought to my attention that a person who suffers from mental illness can turn to substance use to self medicate, therefore making our task force not just about mental illness, but also substance use as well as crisis intervention," she said. "Every person we work with has different needs and different resources they need to help them.”

Detective Shoemaker said it has taken some time to collect a list of resources for inpatient substance use detox, mental health, therapy, food and even housing.

The task force currently is working with approximately eight clients in the program.

Police Sgt. Ben Sleaford, Officer Amber Berthoud and Detective Shoemaker work with the individuals and families to provide needed resources.

“We follow up with our clients and let them know we are here to help, and that may involve making a phone call, going for a walk with them to deescalate, taking them to the food pantry, helping them find housing and sometimes it is just them calling us and talking about their day,” Detective Shoemaker said. “We are looking forward to making our community better with this program and showing that our department is not just a reactive department, but that we are proactive and want to take an active part to make our community the best that it can be.”

IMPACT Mission Statement

“The mission of the Geneseo Police Department IMPACT Task Force is to provide a coordinated, professional and compassionate police response to individuals affected by mental illness, substance abuse or in need of crisis intervention. IMPACT officers will work collaboratively with family members and partnering agencies to achieve improved outcomes for individuals affected by mental illness, substance use or suffering a crisis by connecting them to needed services and diverting them away from the criminal justice system whenever possible. IMPACT officers will follow up with individuals and family members to prevent future calls for service. By providing access to professional assistance and crisis resources IMPACT will seek to improve safety for all members of our community.”