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MPD offers inside look at mental health partnership program

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee police gave CBS 58 an inside look at their partnership program that responds to mental health calls. 

It's called the Crisis Assessment Response Team -- or CARTS. It brings together the Milwaukee Police Department and the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division. 

Behavioral Health Clinician, Enjoli Varnado, and MPD Officer Jay Ehlers, took CBS 58's Christine Flores on a ride-along Thursday, July 23, to a mental health crisis response where every call is different. 

"Whether they’re decompensated from what I like to consider their base line normal behavior, or they’re having really just a bad day and they’re having suicidal indications, we can bring all those resources together and try to get them voluntary treatment," said Officer Ehlers. 

CART launched in 2013, responding to calls both in the city and the county with three teams made up of an officer and a behavioral health clinician. 

"It is extremely important, extremely effective," said Varnado. "Helping not only the officer but the individual, family or community partner to understand what’s going on and how we can best help that person."

When at the scene, the team discusses options like outpatient treatments and resources which overall help improve the community-police relation. 

"Don’t be ashamed of it. Reach out, ask for help... you can get help for you or a family member. We’re only one call away," Ehlers said. 

If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis, you can also call the crisis helpline 1-800-273-8255 which works in partnership with CARTS or in the case of an emergency dial 9-1-1. 

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