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In 2017, the Mason City Police Department received a $75,000 grant to assist in crafting a mental health planning guide for the city.

Now, two years later, that plan will start to materialize thanks to an even more substantial grant.

MCPD has received an implementation grant of approximately $480,000 that will run from October 2019 through September 2022, According to Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley.

That grant, which comes from the Bureau of Justice Assistance through its Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP), will help MCPD to do crisis intervention training, de-escalation and mental health training for officers, virtual reality mental health training and mobile injection therapy. 

In recent years, per Brinkley, the department has worked with mental health groups in the community to "improve outcomes for mental health consumers." A few of those groups have included: County Social Services, MercyOne North Iowa, the North Iowa Transition Center, CG Public Health and the Crisis Intervention Center. 

In 2018, MCPD partnered with County Social Services to fund a justice coordinator position that would provide support to people with mental health issues in frequent contact with law enforcement. 

"We try to make referrals back to their therapist, doctor, family, or other supporter who can assist them through crisis without police response," Brinkley said. "Our goal is to work hard to avoid criminalizing mental illness, reduce use of force on mentally ill persons, and make good use of resources and services because they get connected to those that will help them."

The Bureau of Justice Assistance website states that the JMHCP "seeks to increase public safety by facilitating collaboration among the criminal justice and mental health and substance abuse treatment systems to increase access to mental health and other treatment services for individuals with mental illnesses or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders."

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Reach Reporter Jared McNett at 641-421-0527. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @TwoHeadedBoy98. 

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