GVPD Adds New Officer And Technology To Better Serve Vulnerable Individuals
To better serve a growing senior population and respond to an increasing number of mental health-related calls, the Golden Valley Police Department (GVPD) added a community health officer to its staff in early 2019. At the City’s annual Night To Unite event Aug 6, the GVPD will introduce the Vitals™ App, a new tool it’s using to help first responders more safely and successfully resolve situations with vulnerable individuals.
Community Health Officer
Through its community health officer, the GVPD is developing community, collaboration, and partnerships to help serve residents living with visible, and invisible, disabilities. Over the past six months, the officer has made connections with multiple service providers throughout the metro area and has already been assigned more than 100 cases generated by emergency and non-emergency calls.
Once a connection is made between the community health officer and people requesting assistance, the GVPD is able to connect them with partner organizations that can provide services. The community health officer then follows up with them as requested.
“We serve a very diverse community in Golden Valley when it comes to types of services in regards to health needs, in particular mental health needs,” says Golden Valley Police Chief Jason Sturgis. “Cops are traditionally short-term problem solvers, and most of these issues require a different approach. The community health officer allows us to bridge that gap and provide a more in-depth response where needed.”
“Law enforcement is one of the only common denominators in dealing with members of our community that are in crisis,” Sturgis adds. “We have been asked by the residents we serve for assistance, not just at the time of the call, but on an ongoing basis. This is our way of doing that.”
The Vitals App is a free tool developed by Vitals Aware Services that will help connect residents with service providers throughout the mental health community. It allows an individual or caregiver to create a personalized profile that can be shared with first responders. Profiles can include de-escalation techniques, behavior triggers, emergency contacts, and more.
After creating a profile, each individual is assigned a beacon that transmits a signal to authorized first responders, like GVPD officers, who are within an 80-foot radius. Officers can use the app to temporarily access critical information on the individual’s profile.
As the GVPD reaches out to residents with safety messages during Night To Unite, police officers will encourage families to sign up for the service and collaborate in overall public safety efforts. Anyone can create a profile through the app, but Vitals and the GVPD recommend a profile be created for:
- individuals with invisible or visible conditions and disabilities (mental health, developmental, behavioral, and intellectual)
- senior citizens
- parents and guardians
“We are committed to serving populations that may require special care, empathy, and understanding,” says Sturgis. “As our officers respond to some of our most sensitive and difficult calls, Vitals will help us close the gap between the unknown and the known.”
Get More Information
For more information about the GVPD’s community health officer or its involvement with the Vitals App, call 763-593-8079.
To learn more about the Vitals App or download it, visit its website.