Bettendorf Police and the Scott County Sheriff’s Office plan to hire more officers and deputies. They say an increase in population, geographic expansion and more mental health-related calls are the reasons they are needed.
Both departments also report a need for personal mental health resources within their departments.
“The request for us to respond to a lot of the calls we get are about more mental health issues and things like that, so it’s longer and longer police calls,” the Bettendorf police chief said. , Keith Kimball.
In a 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association, about 20% of police calls for service involved a mental health or addiction crisis. This survey also revealed that helping someone in need of mental health support takes more time and resources. It’s something that the police – especially the smaller departments – say they don’t always get enough of.
“Sometimes people respond better to an officer who has shown up on the scene than to others, so the more choices of officers the better,” said the Scott County deputy, Tim Lane. “You may get more cooperation from someone so you can get them the most help they need.”
Hiring more officers to respond to mental health calls can help reduce the stress this places on officers. However, as the calls come in, the need for mental resources in their own community increases.
“Mental health and law enforcement are things you absolutely have to be proactive about,” Lane said.
He says he has seen law enforcement mental health a priority in recent years.
“You need to constantly train officers and update that training from time to time, so they can recognize the telltale signs that they’re going through a mental health crisis,” Lane said.
The Employee Assistance Program is a resource that officers can use to address their mental health issues.