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Midstate county introduces wearable wristbands to assist police with crisis intervention

“This can help end the stigma surrounding mental health.”

  • Julia Agos
Northern York County Regional Police officer Jonathan Bailey conducts traffic stops in Manchester Township, York County.
November 22, 2019.

Dan Gleiter / PennLive

Northern York County Regional Police officer Jonathan Bailey conducts traffic stops in Manchester Township, York County. November 22, 2019.

(York) – The Crisis Intervention Team in York County is implementing a voluntary wearable wristband program for those with a diagnosed mental illness. The goal is for when officers respond to a call, they can identify the person is distressed and employ de-escalation techniques.

The wristbands are gray and navy blue, and will be distributed by mental health professionals at county medical sites like York Hospital and UPMC.

Katherine Gruver, county’s crisis intervention coordinator, compares them to health alert bracelets.

“Its just like someone who is wearing a diabetic or allergy (bracelet). The officer knowns how to approach, they know how to engage with this person. They can figure out what the problem is so we can get them help,” she said.

Cassandra Quinto-Collins, second from left, holds a photo of her son, Angelo Quinto, while sitting with daughter Bella Collins, left, son Andrei Quinto, center, and husband Robert Collins during an interview in Antioch, Calif., Tuesday, March 16, 2021.

Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

Cassandra Quinto-Collins, second from left, holds a photo of her son, Angelo Quinto, while sitting with daughter Bella Collins, left, son Andrei Quinto, center, and husband Robert Collins during an interview in Antioch, Calif., Tuesday, March 16, 2021. Angelo Quinto died three days after being restrained on Dec. 23, 2020, in police custody while having a mental health crisis.

The issue of how police can better handle mental health crises has been the topic of conversation for criminal justice reform advocates since the fatal police shooting of Ricard Munoz in Lancaster last summer.

Some 5,000 wristbands are expected to be distributed in the coming weeks.

The idea came from an organization in Georgia, Mental Health Alert Wristbands Inc., which has been workshopping the program with York County since last year.

“The bands are a unity for people living with a mental health condition to know they’re not alone. This can help end the stigma surrounding mental health,” said county spokesperson Mark Waters in a statement.

The county is also working to establish a co-responder program to further assist police on mental health calls.

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