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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — The Lee’s Summit Police Department is taking a new approach on mental health response calls.

When officers respond to a mental health call, they’ll now have a co-responder with them. The co-responder will provide immediate services on the spot.

The department said it’s seen an increase of mental health calls since the start of the pandemic.

Three weeks ago, the department started a co-responder pilot program with a mental health non-profit, ReDiscover.

During the week an outreach clinical specialist from ReDiscover goes out on calls with officers and on the weekend, officers call the crisis line for a specialist to meet them.

“So, with COVID, we’ve seen all sorts of calls come through,” ReDiscover Clinical Director Shannon Moss said. “COVID has created a lot of isolation for people and so that can create suicidal thoughts. It can also create just the feeling of loneliness.”

“Our community and our nation have spoken, and they are looking for something different from law enforcement,” Lee’s Summit Police Department Sergeant Chris Depue said. “I think this is a natural extension of that response.”

The partnership is funded through the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund until December, but the police department is planning to make it permanent.