Chamblee hires mental health professional to assist police with some emergencies

The city of Chamblee has hired a trained mental health care professional who will work alongside officers in the Chamblee Police Department when responding to mental health calls, according to officials.

Taisha Porter has been hired in the role of co-responder, according to a news release sent out by Chamblee officials on Aug. 3.

In her role, Porter will provide direct support in the field for those experiencing a mental health crisis and work to de-escalate tense situations, stated officials.

Porter, who has more than 20 years of experience in the mental health field, said she is passionate about her work.

“It is such an honor to serve as the new Mental Health Co-Responder for the Chamblee Police Department,” said Porter. “I am extremely knowledgeable in this field and my experience includes providing individual, family, and group therapy for adolescents and adults who are struggling with addiction and various mental health disorders.”

As Chamblee’s co-responder, Porter will also conduct case management after an interaction, follow-up with medical care providers, and connect individuals to resources and additional care, stated officials. She will work alongside Chamblee Police Lt. Guy Antinozzi, who coordinates homelessness response. Antinozzi is a training instructor and serves as a negotiator with the North Metro SWAT Crisis Negotiation Team.

“The Chamblee Police Department Co-Responder Program is our next step in providing the highest quality police services to our community,” said Antinozzi. “Responding to the most vulnerable members of our service population requires training, expertise, and options. Our dedicated officers and staff are committed to making the efforts required to resolve encounters in the best possible manner, as dictated by the circumstances. Persons are treated as individuals, and positive outcomes are what we seek.”

With the new hire, Chamblee joins other cities in DeKalb County, such as Brookhaven and Dunwoody, in staffing mental health professionals to help police officers and members of the community in crisis.

In a presentation organized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the UC Center for Police Research and Policy, “research provides preliminary evidence of the promising effects of the co-responder model in enhancing crisis de-escalation; increasing individuals’ connection to services; reducing pressure on the criminal justice system by reducing arrests, police detentions, and time spent by officers in responding to calls for service; reducing pressure on the health care system by reducing emergency department visits and psychiatric hospitalizations; and promoting cost-effectiveness.”

Porter is a graduate from Troy University with a master of education in psychology as well as South University with a master degree in professional counseling. For the past eight years, she served as a first responder for the Georgia Mobile Crisis team where she was responsible for providing crisis intervention for individuals suffering from mental health illness and substance abuse disorders, stated officials.

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