Coralville, North Liberty and Johnson County will share liaison with Mental Health Law Enforcement

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Police Chief Diane Venenga (The Gazette)

Shane Kron, Coralville Police Chief

The Coralville and North Liberty Police Departments will work with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and Community Crisis Services to hire a shared mental health liaison.

On Tuesday, members of the Coralville and North Liberty city council approved a memorandum of understanding outlining the agreement. Johnson County Sheriff Brad Kunkel said he would sign the memorandum once he receives the agreements from North Liberty and Coralville.

Liaison will be hired by the community, but will work directly with law enforcement to respond to and track mental health crises encountered by officers.

“We deal with many mental health crisis issues every day. We can handle the call, but our ability to follow up, to track these people, to provide service to them down the road, is pretty limited because we’re on the next call,” the Coralville Police Chief said. , Shane Kron, to members of the city council on Tuesday. Meet. “So we envision this position as being someone who can pick up the ball and drive it forward from our initial contact and make sure we get the follow through and close the loop.”

East Central Iowa Area Mental Health/Disability Services agreed to pay for the liaison for the first year. In the second year, the community will cover the majority of the liaison’s salary and benefits, with law enforcement covering 25% of the price. In year three, agencies will increase their share to 50% and in year four to 75%.

The current contract only lasts four years, but stipulates that if the agreement is renewed, law enforcement will continue to cover 75% of the cost for each subsequent year.

Agencies approached the Central East Region a few years ago to request funding for a shared link and were turned down. The area returned to agencies this year to ask if they were still interested, North Liberty Police Chief Diane Venenga said.

“It’s exciting. It’s going to grow,” Venenga told North Liberty Council members at Tuesday’s meeting. “I think the funding was there at the state level for that area and they needed people to show up and spend it.”

The Liaison Officer will be hired by CommUnity, with input from law enforcement agencies, and they will work out of an office in the North Liberty Police Department. Part of the Liaison Officer’s role will be to refer people to the GuideLink Centre, an adult mental health and addictions care centre.

The community has already begun the bonding interview process and narrowed the pool of applicants down to two people, according to Kron and Venenga.

The community has worked with other local police departments in the past to create similar liaison roles. In 2021, CommUnity hired a mental health liaison who works with the Iowa City Police Department.

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